Silappadikaaram Of Anklet Unique Tamil Epic

Sanatana Dharma, mistakenly called as Hinduism, has been assigned a date of 5000 BC (Rig Veda Date) by the West.

Silapathikaaram Tamil Text.

‘At the end of the Sangam epoch (second – third centuries CE), the Tamil country was in political confusion. The older order of the three Tamil dynasties was replaced by the invasion of the Kalabhras. These new kings and others encouraged the religions of Buddhism and Jainism. Ilango Adigal, the author of Silappatikaram, probably lived in this period and was one of the vast number of Jain and Buddhist authors in Tamil poetry”
But the evidence unearthed in Jwalapuram, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India, in Chennai and in Poomphar in Tamil Nadu date the Tamils History from 300 BC to around 75000 years back!
One finds Tamil Brahmi Script in the  Indus Seals.
And Lord Shiva the founder, according to Tamil Literature,the founder of the Tamil language is a Pre Sanatana Dharma Deity was worshiped in the South much before the migration of Vaivastha Manu ,the ancestor of Lord Rama to Ayodhya.
This language Tamil quotes the Vedas and the Vedas , Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas talk of Tamil Kings having been present during the swayamvara of Damayanthi, Lord Rama’s marriage,  Draupadi’s swayamvar,elephant tusks ,pearls and spices being imported from the land of the Tamils!
Hence Sanatana Dharma and Tamil are much older.
They go back to at least 75000 years.

Tamil language is as old as Sanskrit though it is difficult to assign a specific date.
However this is disputed.
Tamil has a hoary past and literature of high quality dating back to these times.
Tamil Literature of ancient times, for convenience of Study has been classified as pre Sangam , Sangam and Post Sangam Period.
Sangam period is the period when Conclave of Poets were held and honored.
There three Sangams.


The Tamil Sangams or Cankams were assemblies of Tamil scholars and poets that, according to traditional Tamil accounts, occurred in the remote past. Scholars believe that these assemblies were originally known as kooṭam or gathering. which was also a name forMadurai. Three assemblies are described. The legend has it that the first two of which were held in cities since “taken by the sea”, and the third of which was held in the present-day city of Madurai. The word sangam has its mention in the sense of an ‘academy’ in several Tamil literary works like Tevaram, Thiruvilayadal puranam, periyapuranam and Irayanar Ahaporul. Also legend has it that Nammazwar’s Thiruvaimozhi was approved in an assembly of 300 poets.

The Sangam period extended from roughly 350 BC to 300 AD (early chola period before the interregnum), when the earliest extant works of Tamil literature were created (also known as Sangam literature).] However, the name Sangam and the associated legends probably derive from a much later period. Whilst the accounts of first two Sangams are generally rejected as ahistorical, some modern scholars, such as Kamil Zvelebil, find a kernel of truth in them, suggesting that they may be based on one or more actual historical assemblies. Others reject the entire notion as infactual. Nevertheless, legends of the Sangams played a significant role in inspiring political, social, and literary movements in Tamil Nadu in the early 20th century.
Most of the Literature was destroyed by Tsunamis, called Kadal Kol in Tamil.
Of the literature that survived is the Cilappadikaaram, one among the Great Five Tamil Epics, Aimperunkaapiyangal.
The Five Great Epics are,



Civaka Chinthamani,

Valayapathi and


Of these only the Cilappadikaram in non religious epic.

Manimeghlai snd Kundalakesi were influenced by and propagate Buddhism,, Civaka Chinthamani and Valyapathi have leanings to Jainism .

Cilappadikaram was written by Ilango Adigal ,  a younger Prince of Chera Dynasty , ruling  ( roughly speaking) the present Kerala in India.

His brother was Cheran Chenguttuvanbwas a famous ruler and he is reported have extended his Kingdom to North India and made two Kings of North to carry a stone to the south.

It is stated that  an astrologer reading the horoscope of Ilango Adigal forecast that he would become  famous and be well-remembered by posterity.
Thinking that the astrologer implied that he would become a King superceding  Chenguttuvan, his brother,the heir to the throne, Ilango Adigal renounced his claim to the throne and became a Buddhist Monk.
And he composed the Cilappadikaram.
Ilango Adigal is not his name and it is a nom de plume.

ILANGO in Tamil means the younger one of the King.

Ilango had renounced even his name in favor of his brother.

He penned the real life incident of a  contemporary woman,Kannagi as a great Epic  Cilappadhikaram.
Cilappadhikaram , though it is translated as THe Story of The Anklet, the nearest translation of the Tamil word Cilappadhikaram is ‘Grown of an Anklet’, indicating that the entire epic is woven around an

That is the Anklet of Kannagi and the onevof the Pandyan Queen.

​The story of Kannagi.​

​Kannagi and Kovalan were born in Poompuhar, belonging to Chola Kingdgdom

( the city of Poompuhar, near Mayiladuthurai has been excavated​ from the sea and it has proved that the site is about 20,000 yeras old)

They belong to Traders Class and they got married.

after a few years Kovalan became a profligate and had developed intimacy with a Girl named Madhavi and in t

during the period Kannagi was upset and Kovalan  lost all his wealth.

​Embarrassed at having lost his wealth ​and repenting the injustice heaped by him on Kannagi, Kovalan, along with Kannagi left for Madurai, then a part of Pandya Kingdom to seek wealth.

In Madurai, the King’s goldsmith stole the Queen’s anklet, made of Pearls.

Kovalan, to make both ends meet, went to sell Kannagi’s Anklet, made of Ribies.

Seizing the opportunity to escape the Kin’s wrath, who has started checking the theft, the Goldsmith informed the King that he had found the thief, King arrested Kovalan and Kovalan was beheaded.

Wronged and a vengeful Kannagi presented herself in the King’s court and demonstrated that the Anklet her husband sold was hers and made of  made of Rubies and not the Queen’s , which was made of Pearls.

To prove it, Kannagi broke the anklets and the Rubies burst out.

​And Kannagi stings the King by saying that he was unfit to be a kIng​, who can not adjudicate properly and had sent an innocent man to his Gallows.Gallows. Realizing that he had failed in the administration of Justice, the Pandyan King dies on the spot and his wife also dies.

Still seething with anger, Kannagi plucks out one of her breasts and burns the city of Madurai.

Then she proceeded towards Vanchi, Chera Kingdom and cries out for her husband.

She then ascends Heavens amidst heavenly showers.

The place she ascended the Heavens is in Kerala Tamil Nadu border and there is a Temple of Kannagi where she is worshiped as an Embodiment of chastity and virtue.

Features of Cilappadikaaram.

1.Cilappadikaraam  contains three chapters and a total of 5270 lines of poetry.

2.The message of Silappadikaaram.

Arasiyal pizhaithorku aramkootru avathum         

For those who commit injustice in ruling/politics,
the justice itself will turn as demon of death.

Uraisaal pathini uyarnthor yetralum,

Noble people adore chaste woman

Oozhvinai uruthtu vantuttum enbathum

Unrelenting fate plays its hard role in ones life.

அரசியல் பிழைத்தோர்க்கு அறம் கூற்று ஆவதூஉம்,

உரைசால் பத்தினிக்கு உயர்ந்தோர் ஏத்தலும்,ஊழ்வினை உருத்து வந்து ஊட்டும் என்பதூஉம்,

சூழ் வினைச் சிலம்பு காரணமாக,சிலப்பதிகாரம் என்னும் பெயரால்நாட்டுதும் யாம் ஓர் பாட்டு உடைச் செய்யுள்

-Ilango Adigal in Silappadikaaram.

3.Silappadikaaram covers all the three Tamil Kingdoms.


Silappatikaram has three Cantos.:

  • Puharkkandam (புகார்க் காண்டம் – Puhar chapter), which deals with the events in the Chola city of Puhar, where Kannagi and Kovalan start their married life and Kovalan leaves his wife for the courtesan Madavi. This contains 10 cantos or divisions.
  • Maduraikkandam (மதுரைக் காண்டம் – Madurai chapter), is situated in Madurai in the Pandya kingdom where Kovalan loses his life, incorrectly blamed for the theft of the queen’s anklet. This contains 13 cantos.
  • Vanchikkandam (வஞ்சிக் காண்டம் – Vanchi chapter), is situated in the Chera country where Kannagi ascends to the heavens. This contains 7 cantos, and each of them is made of several sub-divisions called kaathais (narrative sections of the chapters).

4. Literary innovations. It introduces the intermingling of poetry with prose, a form not seen in previous Tamil works. It features an unusual praise of the Sun, the Moon, the river Kaveri and the city of Poompuhar at its beginning, the contemporary tradition being to praise a deity. It is also considered to be a predecessor of the Nigandu lexicographic tradition. It has 30 referred as monologues sung by any character in the story or by an outsider as his own monologue often quoting the dialogues he has known or witnessed. It has 25 cantos composed in akaval meter, used in most poems in Sangam literature. The alternative for this meter is called aicirucappu (verse of teachers) associted with verse composed in learned circles.Akaval is a derived form of verb akavu indicating to call or beckon. Silappatikaram is also credited to bring folk songs to literary genre, a proof of the claim that folk songs institutionalised literary culture with the best maintained cultures root back to folk origin.

According to the great Tamil commentator Atiyarkkunallar (12th-13th century BCE), poems were of two kinds – Col thodar nilai ceyyuḷ (சொல் தொடர் நிலை செய்யுள்) or poems connected by virtue of their formal properties and Poruḷ toṭar nilai ceyyuḷ (பொருள் தொடர் நிலை செய்யுள்), or poems connected by virtue of content that forms a unity] Cilappatikāram, the Tamil epic is defined by Atiyarkkunallar as Iyal icai nāṭaka poruḷ toṭar nilai ceyyuḷ (இயல் இசை நாடக பொருள் தொடர் நிலை செய்யுள்), poems connected by virtue of content that forms a unity having elements of poetry, music and drama. Such stanzas are defined as kāvya and kappiyam in Tamil. In Mayilainathar’s commentary (14th century CE) on the grammar Nannūl, we first hear the mention of aimperumkappiyam, the five great epics of Tamil literature.

Each one of these epics have long cantos, like in Cilappatikāram, which has 30 referred as monologues sung by any character in the story or by an outsider as his own monologue often quoting the dialogues he has known or witnessed. It has 25 cantos composed in akaval meter, used in most poems in Sangam literature. The alternative for this meter is called aicirucappu (verse of teachers) associated with verse composed in learned circles. Akaval is a derived form of verb akavu indicating to call or beckon.Cilappatikāram is also credited to bring folk songs to literary genre, a proof of the claim that folk songs institutionalised literary culture with the best maintained cultures root back to folk origin. Manimekalai is an epic in ahaval metre and is noted for its simple and elegant style of description of natural scenery. Cīvaka Cintāmaṇi is one of the earliest works of Tamil literature in long verses called virutha pa’

To put it in a simple language, one sentence runs through one chapter!

5. Silappdikaaram throws light on the Sanatana Dharma practices like the performance of Yagnyas and Poojas especially the one offered to Indra, started by the Yadus.

Sources.. bsvn

By Ramanis blog

Retired Senior Management Professional. Lectures on Indian Philosophy,Hinduism, Comparative Religions. Researching Philosophy, Religion. Free lance Writer.Blogger,Tedex Speaker

1 comment

  1. It is very long time back in mid or late sixties I had the opportunity to see a movie based on this story that too i . Touring talkies in a remote village in Udmalpet
    Thanks a lot for rekindling the good old days I mean the memories. Have a great week


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