Cilappatikaram The Tale of an Anklet BBMKU Semester 1Notes

The Tale of an Anklet (Silappadikaram) is an ancient Tamil epic poem, written by Ilango Adigal between 200 and 300 AD. It is the earliest surviving Tamil epic and is considered to be one of the greatest works of Tamil literature.

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The story tells the tale of Kannagi and Kovalan, a young couple who are deeply in love. However, their happiness is short-lived, as Kovalan is seduced by a courtesan named Madhavi. He abandons Kannagi and squanders all of his wealth on Madhavi. Eventually, Kovalan comes to his senses and realizes his mistake. He returns to Kannagi, and they decide to leave their home city of Puhar and start a new life in Madurai.

On their way to Madurai, Kannagi sells one of her anklets to provide for them. When they arrive in Madurai, Kovalan tries to sell Kannagi’s other anklet, which is very valuable. However, the court Jeweller accuses Kovalan of stealing a valuable anklet from the queen. Kovalan is summarily executed without a trial.

Kannagi is distraught and enraged by her husband’s unjust death. She goes to the king’s court and demands justice. She proves that the anklet is hers by breaking it open and revealing the rubies inside, while the queen’s anklet had pearls. The king and queen, realizing their mistake, die of shame.

Kannagi, consumed by grief and anger, curses the city of Madurai. The city is engulfed in flames and destroyed. Kannagi then disappears into the heavens, where she is worshipped as a goddess.

The Tale of an Anklet is a powerful story of love, loss, and justice. It is also a celebration of the Tamil language and culture. The epic is rich in symbolism, and allegory, and has been interpreted in many different ways over the centuries.

Here is a summary of the three parts of the epic:

  • Book 1: The Anklet (Kaadukādai) This book tells the story of Kannagi and Kovalan’s love and marriage, and Kovalan’s subsequent infatuation with Madhavi.
  • Book 2: The City (Maduraikādai) This book tells the story of Kannagi and Kovalan’s journey to Madurai, Kovalan’s unjust execution, and Kannagi’s revenge on the city.
  • Book 3: The Forest (Vanchikādai) This book tells the story of Kannagi’s transformation into a goddess and her worship by the people of Madurai.

The Tale of an Anklet is a complex and multifaceted epic, and it is impossible to do it justice in short summary. However, I hope this has given you a basic understanding of the story.

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