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.
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
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.
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
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,
In fact, I had to deviate at the end of
the story in writing the arguments and counter-arguments 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.
suggestions are always welcome and can be sent to my email address:
Dated: 6th July, 2006.
Poetess Sandra Fowler writes:
Once again Rajaram
Ramachandran gives us a fascinating glimpse into the past
legends of India.
His book, Manimegalai,
was originally written by the Tamil Poet Seethalai Sathanar
in the second century AD, as a continuation to the Story
written by Illangovadigal, a prince turned monk some 1400
years ago. The poet has translated this ancient Tamil work
into readable English with great skill and dexterity.
was first introduced in Rajaram's fine book entitled Silappadigaram,
or The Killer Anklet, as the love child of Madhavi, the
noted dancer, and Kovalan, the husband of Kannagi, who has
become the symbol of a chaste woman to the inhabitants of
After her affair
with Kovalan brought heartbreak and tragedy into so many
lives, Madhavi renounced her worldly ways and dedicated
herself to a religious existence. In her remorse for past
mistakes and fear that Manimegalai might follow the old
path, she compels her daughter to withdraw from the world
The poet paints
a memorable word picture of this sensitive girl who has
to face a male dominated society, retain her religious values,
and keep her modesty.
She moves through
this exotic book as if she moved against a rich tapestry
glowing with the glories of India's illustrious past.
Manimegalai, with her magic bowl of food that never needs
to be replenished, feeds the poor with genuine compassion.
She enchants the reader and captures the imagination of
all who know of her sacrifice.
she succeeds in keeping herself unblemished by the world
is expressed in these poetic eloquent lines:
Manimegalai knew her life past.
Also an insight on truth she got.
Charity minded always she was.
She came up morally famous (248)
is a literary ambassador for his country. His extraordinary
visions of ancient life are as relevant today as they were
yesterday. Forms and fashions may change, but human nature
writer, Mark Twain, called India "The mother of history,
the grandmother of legend, and the great-grandmother of
I commend the
writer of Manimegalai for his sense of history, for his
gift for bringing ancient legends to life, and for his ability
to convey the traditions of his country to the reader via
his vivid poetry. Rajaram Ramachandran is a true son of
India by any definition. His fine work, characterized by
simplicity and wisdom, deserves to be read and appreciated
both in the eastern and western worlds
Sandra Fowler was born in West Columbia, WV, on February
4, 1937, and has been writing poetry for almost fifty years.
Associate Editor, Ocarina from about 1978 to 1989. Had a
poem nominated for The Pushcart prize, 1998. Wazir Agha
dedicated his Selected Poems to her in 1998. Interviewed
by Skylark Purdue University Calumet in 2000. Honorary Doctorate,
World Academy Of Arts And Culture, 2002. Wall Of Tolerance
Honoree, 2002. Biography listed in Who's Who of American
Women, Marquis, and The Dictionary Of International Biography,
England. Chosen by The International Translation and Research
Centre and The Journal Of World Poets Quarterly (Multilingual),
and published in China, as one of The International Best
Poets Of 2005.
story of Silappadigaram, or The Killer Anklet has been attracting
me for several years for two reasons.
It was written some 1400 years ago by a Prince turned Jain Saint,
Illangovadigal in the Sangam age Tamil poetry, which reflected
the culture and the life style of the people of that time in the
Southern parts of India.
It was in the year 1965,
my poetry career started. I was travelling in a rainy season of
that year, as a lone passenger, in I Class compartment (Old type)
from New Delhi to Vijayawada. The moving panorama outside in the
ghat section and plains attracted my attention. I wrote the first
poem, “A Song of the World” in that running train,
which got published in the Souvenir released by the South Indian
Cultural Association, Vijayawada