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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamils - a Nation without a StateSingapore > Satyameva Jayate - Truth Alone Triumphs - Presented by Agni Koothu - Theatre of Fire

Tamils - a Nation without a State

Singapore - சிங்கப்பூர்
- an estimated 200,000 Tamils live in Singapore -

Satyameva Jayate - Truth Alone Triumphs
Mahatma Gandhi & Nathuram Godse

" 'Satyameva Jayate' ( सत्यमेव जयते) (Sanskrit: "Truth Alone Triumphs") is the national motto of India. It is inscribed in Devanagari script at the base of the national emblem, which is an adaptation of the Lion Capital of Asoka at Sarnath, near Varanasi in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The origin of the motto is a well-known mantra 3.1.6 from the mundaka Upanishad  Full mantra as follows.

satyameva jayate nānrtam
satyena panthā vitato devayānaha
yenā kramantyrsayo hyāptakāmā
yatra tat satyasya paramam nidhānam  Wikipedia


Truth Alone Triumphs - Play by Elangovan

Presented by Agni Koothu - Theatre of Fire
written & directed by Elangovan

performed (in English) by Ahamed Ali Khan (Gandhi) & Hemang Yadav (Godse)
Sat 1 & Sun 2 Aug 2009, 8 pm, $20, The Substation Theatre
(Tickets available at The Substation Box-0ffice - Tel: 63377800)

"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light." ~ Plato


Mahatma Gandhi, the messiah of peace is the pioneer and perfector of Satyagraha - the resistance of tyranny through mass civil disobedience.

On 30 January 1948, at 5.10 pm, Gandhi leaves his room at the Birla House. He walks briskly to the prayer ground. Gandhi greets the waiting crowd. Nathuram Godse folds his hands and says 'Namaste'. Pushing aside one of the girls walking with Gandhi, he shoots him at pointblank range. Three bullets hit Gandhi. Godse surrenders to the police. He is hanged till dead at Ambala Prison on 15 November 1949.

Godse's defence was not allowed to be publicized by the Indian government for more than 50 years. According to Justice Gopal Das Khosla, one of Godse's judges, who did play a role in convicting him:

"the audience was visibly and audibly moved. There was a deep silence when he ceased speaking. Many women were in tears and men were coughing and searching for their handkerchiefs. I have, however, no doubt that had the audience on that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse's appeal, they would have brought in a verdict of 'not guilty' by an overwhelming majority."

Both Gandhi and Godse believed in TRUTH. But they took different roads to truth. Is Godse really the mad Hindu fanatic as portrayed by the establishment that sentenced him to death?

Both Gandhi and Godse meet in "Trishanku's heaven". [Trishanku's heaven is a mythological world created by sage Viswamitra for mortal king Trishanku who wanted to go to heaven. The immortals refused to accept Trishanku and he was marooned between earth and heaven for eternity.]

They debate about their preferred modes of 'speaking truth to power' - Ahimsa (Non-violence) and Himsa (Violence). Godse's memoryscapes contest the official truths of the Gandhian era to reclaim history.

Godse's gun that he had used to kill Gandhi is on the table with one bullet left. Both are forced to play Russian-roulette as only then they will be liberated from the stalemate position in Trishanku's heaven. Their cross-examinations of each other exhume the nature of tyranny in our lives, and examine the relevance of peace and love to survive as human beings in this violent world.

But a bullet is fired to seal the glaring discrepancies in the mythifications.


GODSE: The Muslim squads in Pakistan were well supplied with daggers, swords, spears and even fire-arms. They had bands of stabbers and their auxiliaries, who covered the assailant, ambushed the victims and disposed the bodies. The bands were subsidized by the Muslim League. The assassins were paid cash for the number of Hindus and Sikhs bagged. Women were raped in the presence of their husbands, brothers, fathers and sons. After being raped they were distributed among the Muslims to be kept as concubines or were forcibly married. A large number were carried into the tribal territory, and became untraceable. Children were snatched from the hands of their parents, tossed on spears and swords, and sometimes thrown alive into the fire. Women's breasts, noses and arms were lopped off. Sticks and pieces of iron were thrust into their private parts. The bellies of pregnant women were ripped open and the fetus was thrown out. All these happened at a time when, in India, you undertook your last fast to get better treatment for the Muslims in India.

GANDHI: 15 August 1947. Independence day. The Sikhs in Amritsar slaughtered the male Muslims. The Muslim women were stripped, raped and then paraded naked through the city to the Golden Temple, where their throats were cut. A British officer of the Punjab Boundary Force found four Muslim babies roasted like piglets on spits in a village raided by Sikhs. On both sides, a man's sexual organ became a target. In India, Sikhs and Hindus checked the trains going to Pakistan and slaughtered every circumcised male. In Pakistan, the Muslims blocked every train going to India and slaughtered every uncircumcised male. RSS groups kidnapped a Muslim woman wearing a Burqa. They soaked her in petrol and set her ablaze outside the gate of Nehru's York Road residence. The vultures were so bloated by their feasts that they could not fly. The stray dogs were so choosy that they ate only the livers of the corpses. But the Harijans, Hindu untouchables were spared. In the Pakistan refugee camps, the Sikhs and Hindus complained to their Muslim guards that they were forced to live in filth as there were no untouchable to clean the latrines. In Karachi, the sanitation system collapsed. So the Muslims allowed the untouchables to wear green and white armbands similar to those of the Muslim National Guard for protection from killing squads. [Laughs] It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings.

ELANGOVAN, bilingual poet-playwright-director, screenwriter, literary editor, transcreator, and pioneer of modern Tamil poetry and Tamil experimental theatre in Singapore, obtained a BA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) and a MA (Middlesex University, UK) in Theatre Directing. He has been a freelance-journalist, teacher, television film-cameraman (then Singapore Broadcasting Corporation), Welfare Officer (closed institution for delinquents), Probation Officer and Prison Welfare Officer. He worked as an Arts Administrator with the National Arts Council from 1987 to 2000, Lecturer (Drama) at the Division of Performing Arts, LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts from 2001 to 2003, an Associate (Literary) at The Centre for the Arts, National University of Singapore in 2004, a Security Executive, from 2005 to 2006, a Drama Teacher at an international school in 2007, and an Administrative Manager in 2008. He is the Artistic Director of Agni Kootthu (Theatre of Fire).

He has published three collections of poetry: Vizhichannalkalin Pinnalirunthu (Behind Windows of Eyes), 1979, Mounavatham (Silent Annihilation), 1984, and Transcreations (a bilingual collection), 1988, and eleven collections of plays, DOGS and Other Plays, 1996, TALAQ (Divorce), 1999, BUANG SUAY and Other Plays, 2001, FLUSH - recipient of the Singapore Internationale Award, 2002, MINES, 2003, OODAADI (Medium) - recipient of the Singapore Internationale Award, 2003, O$P$ (OweMoneyPayMoney), 2004, 1915 - recipient of the Singapore Internationale Award, 2005, SMEGMA, 2006, P (Shit), 2007, and I, BOSE, 2009.

His works have been anthologized in The Poetry of Singapore (1985) and The Fiction of Singapore (1990) in the Anthology of ASEAN Literatures series, and ASEANO - An anthology of poems from Southeast Asia (1995), Philippines, Voices of Singapore (1989), Words For The 25th (1990), Singapore: Places, Poems, Paintings (1993), Journeys: Words, Home and Nation (1995), Rhythms-A Singaporean Millennial Anthology of Poetry (2000), The S.E.A. Write Anthology of ASEAN Short Stories & Poems (2008), and SAMPARK - Indian edition on Singapore literature (2008). He was one of the literary editors of: SINGA - the journal of literature and the arts in Singapore, from 1990 to 1993 and 1997 to 1998, The Fiction of Singapore, Words For The 25th and Voices 4 (1995).

He has represented Singapore in the 2nd Asian Poetry Festival, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1989, 3rd & 4th Southeast Asian Writers’ Conferences in Singapore, 1987 and Philippines, 1990, 3rd World Poetry Reading, Malaysia, 1990, and 1st ASEAN Writers’ Conference / Workshop, Malaysia, 1992, and was a member of the first multilingual literary delegation’s trip to China in Apr 1999 organised by The Centre For The Arts & The Association of Singapore Writers (Chinese). He represented Singapore in the Singapore Writers Festivals in 1988, 1993 and 2005, and the Ubud International Writers Festival, Bali, Indonesia in Oct 2005.

He has also conducted poetry and playwriting workshops and mentored for the Creative Arts Programme series from 1991 to 1993, 1998, 1999 and 2004, organised by the Gifted Education Unit of the Ministry of Education and The Centre for The Arts, National University of Singapore. His bilingual poem Hairline was displayed in the MRT: Poems on the Move series by the National Arts Council in Jan 1999.

He wrote the story, screenplay and dialogues for the 13-week teledrama SOOR (High) based on true drug-abuse case-studies in Singapore and it was telecasted on Vasantham Central of the Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) in 2003. DOGS was staged by the Hearts & Eyes Theatre at the Standard Bank National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa, Jul 1996. DOGS was given a staged reading in the Typhoon III Festival at the Soho Theatre, London in Jun 2004, a rehearsed reading at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in Oct 2004 and staged in the doublebill ‘Typhoon Live’ at the Oval House Theatre (Off West End), London from 9 to 13 Oct 2007 by the Yellow Earth Theatre - UK's flagship award-winning East Asian theatre company based in London. P (SHIT) was staged by Teater Ekamatra, a leading Malay theatre group in Singapore, Mar 2006.

Since 1991, he has written, adapted, transcreated and directed numerous plays for Agni Kootthu (Theatre of Fire), a prominent bilingual exploratory theatre group in Singapore. His major unpublished plays include Becak (Trishaw) Puli (Tiger), Sangre (Blood), Mirugam II (Animal II), Buddha’s Handgrenade, OH! and Alamak! His works have been staged in Australia, UK, South Africa, Spain and India. He has also participated as a Dramaturg: MOSAIC Youth Theatre of Detroit, USA, Dec 2000, UNESCO International Theatre Festival, Sinaia, Romania, Jul 2001, and at the FIESTA! International Experimental Theatre Festival, Dec 2001, Caracas, Venezuela.

Known to be controversial, irreverent, and provocative, his critical works explore the untouched realities in Singapore. He believes that art should conscientise, confront and question accepted societal stereotypes of vision, perception, feeling and judgement to examine reality as a historical and social process.

Elangovan is listed on tamilnation.org as one of the renowned individuals in their list of 100 Tamils of the 20th Century - Tamils who had made significant contributions to the world. He is listed in the language and literature category among other prominent Tamil intellectuals.

He received the 1997 SEA (South-East Asia) Write Award, Southeast Asia’s premier literary prize, in Bangkok, Thailand for his bilingual contribution to literature (poetry) and theatre in Singapore.




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