Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"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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Manimekalai of Cittalaic Cattanar at Project Madurai -  pdf - unicode

"The publication of the twin epics, SilappathikAram and MaNimEkalai  marked the commencement of the epic era  in Thamizh literature.... Manimekalai the other half of the twin epics represents the continuation of the sad saga of MAdhavi and her daughter, MaNimEkalai. Following the traumatic death of KOvalan and KaNNaki, MAdhavi withdrew herself from her artistic career and public life. KaNNaki's chastity and fidelity had a very powerful impact on her moral outlook of life and its meaning. Her adoration of KaNNaki was so high that she always introduced MaNimEkalai as KaNNaki's daughter. She repented the type of life she led upto that time and wanted to erase the memories of her unchaste family traditions from MaNi mEkalai's mind. Her disenchantment towards life, in general, increased to such an extent that she joined the Buddhist monastry. She brought up MaNimEkalai in an environment free of transient worldly pleasures.

The prince fell in love with MaNimEkalai who was unable to reciprocate his love because of her mother's influence. Ultimately MaNimEkalai went to the island of MaNipallavam, got ordained as a Buddhist monk and received the gift of a mystic box  capable of an eternal supply of food. Her ambition in life turned out to be the alleviation of the hunger of the poor and the needy. Her ascetic life and service to humanity elevated her to the status of an idol so that people worshipped her as MaNimEkalai, the God , after her death. In the following lines she defined virtue as the human trait by which food, clothing and shelter are made available to all:

அறமெனப் படுவது யாதெனக்கேட்பின்
மறவாது இதுகேள் மன்னுயிர்க்கு எல்லாம்
உண்டியும் உடையும் உறையளும் அல்லது
கண்ட தில்லை.

The author of MaNimEkalai (4835 lines), SAtthanAr finds the story much to his own liking and religious views. Unlike iLangO atikaL who remained unbiased in his narration of the life of KOvalan and KaNNaki, SAtthanAr did not hesitate to use MaNimEkalai's story of renunciation to propagate Buddhist philosophy."  Professor C.R. Krishnamurti on Manimekalai in  Thamizh Literature Through the Ages

Manimekalai - C.J.Gunasegaram

Manimekalai - Dancer with Magic Bowl - Narrative in Tamil Epic (Second Century AD)  - Arputhrani Sengupta (Associate Professor, Dept. of History of Art, National Museum Institute, New Delhi, India)  "..When Manimekalai took decisions on her life, cognition and positive force set her on the path of knowledge. Born to be a courtesan, her decision to take the vow of chastity and charity is a daring innovation, which utilized creative power in the service of spiritual and social goals. By writing the epic Merchant Prince Shattan reproduced the narrative in a form that could be retained and retrieved. The Tamil epic Manimekalai has endured for nearly two millennia because of the innovation of Brahmi script derived from Aramaic, which enabled the reproduction of knowledge through writing for the benefit of society. The written reproduction provides the possibility of a broader reception and, more importantly, also of history, society and religion, and the opportunity for critical observation, since only a fixed text makes any kind of criticism possible..."

* Silappadikaram and Manimekalai*Alan Danielou (translator) - Manimekhalai (The Dancer With the Magic Bowl)  July 1989 - "The Manimekhalai, one of the masterpieces of Tamil literature, gives us in the form of didactic novel full of freshness and poetry, a delightful insight into the ways of life, the pleasures, beliefs and philosophical concepts of a refined civilisation... Tamil is the main pre-Aryan language still surviving today.... The Manimekhalai calls into question many of our received ideas concerning ancient India as well as our interpretation of the sources of its present day religion and philosophy. In its clear accounts of the philosophical concepts of the time, the Manimekhalai presents the various currents of pre Aryan thought.... which gradually influenced the Vedic Aryan world... The society in which the action of the Manimekhalai takes has little to do with the Aryanised civilisation of the north which we know from Sanskrit texts...The Greek geographer, Ptolemy in the second century mentions the main ports of southern India and, in particular, Kaaveris Emporium, the Kaveripum-pattinam (or Puhar) of the Manimekhalai .."



Manimekalai of Cittalaic Cattanar
மணிமேகலை - சீத்தலைச்சாத்தனார்

"The Manimekhalai, one of the masterpieces of Tamil literature, gives us in the form of didactic novel full of freshness and poetry, a delightful insight into the ways of life, the pleasures, beliefs and philosophical concepts of a refined civilisation... In its clear accounts of the philosophical concepts of the time, the Manimekhalai presents the various currents of pre Aryan thought.... which gradually influenced the Vedic Aryan world... The society in which the action of the Manimekhalai takes has little to do with the Aryanised civilisation of the north which we know from Sanskrit texts..." Alan Danielou (translator) - Manimekhalai (The Dancer With the Magic Bowl)

Tamil Culture in Ceylon, a General Introduction, circa 1952

One of the finest jewels of Tamil poetry", the epic poem Manimekalai by Poet Sathanar, 2nd century A.D., is unique for the deep spirituality and mysticism it unfolds against the historical and geographical background of South India and of adjacent Jaffna.

The death of her father, Kovalan, under tragic circumstances, weighs upon the mind of young Manimekala and she resolves on a life of renunciation. At every turn she is obstructed. Running through her life story are a set of counteracting forces � on the one hand is her passion to enter holy orders of a Buddhist bhikkuni and on the other, the infatuation of Udaya Kumaran, the Chola prince, to win her favours.

The first scene is laid in the garden of the capital city, Puhar, with Manimekala and her companion, Sutamati, gathering flowers. With all the daring of his princely rank, Udaya Kumaran gives vent to his deep love. Faced by a situation from which there is no escape, spiritual aid comes to her in the person of the Goddess Manimekalai, her guardian deity. The Goddess charms her to sleep, and while in a state of trance, spirits her away to the Island of Manipallavam,1 down South. Leaving her there, the Goddess gets back to Puhar, the Chola capital. Appearing before Prince Udaya Ku maran, she tells him of the unrighteousness of his conduct, unbecoming of a prince. The Goddess now appears to Sutamati in a dream and tells her of her flight to the Island of Manipallavam with Manimekala, and how the Goddess has set her on the road to spirituality.

Bewildered at her loneliness in strange surroundings Manimekala roams about the place until she comes upon the site hallowed by the visit of the Buddha. This was the site where according to legends, the Buddha landed and settled a growing strife between two warring Naga. Princes for a gem-set throne left to them by an ancestress. The episode of the Buddha's visit to the Island of Nagadipa, where he preached a sermon of reconciliation between the two Naga princes, is sung in Buddhist legends of Ceylon, chronicled in Sinhalese Mahavamsa. Circumambulating the holy seat, and prostrating herself before it, memories of her past life miraculously dawns on her.

One of her righteous deeds in her past life, is here recounted. Lakshmi, as she was in her previous birth, comes upon a Buddhist Charana by name Sadhu Sakkaram flying across the air. As he landed, Lakshmi and her husband, Rahula, prostrated before the sage, and Lakshmi offered the sage food. The merit that she thus acquired gained for her the reward of acquiring nirvana, in her next birth, destined to live the life of a Bhikkuni. Rahula, her husband, was reborn as Prince Udaya Kumara. This accounts for his amorous advances to her.

 To release her from this attachment and to help her to fulfil the Karma, was the mission of Goddess Manimekalai who spirited her away to the Island of Manipallavam. In her past birth she was one of the three daughters of King Ravivarman and his Queen Amudapati, of Yasodharanagari. The other two daughters were Tarai and Virai, married to King Durjaya. On a certain day returning from a visit to the hills by the side of the Ganges, the royal party came upon Aravana Adigal, the great Buddhist saint.

The latter persuaded the king and his daughters, to worship the footprints of the Buddha in Padapankaja Malai of the Giridharakuta hills. The story of the footprints finds mention in these words : " The Buddha stood on the top of the hill and taught his Dharma to all living beings, and as he preached in love, his footprints became imprinted on the hill, which thus got the name Padapankaja Malai (the Hill of the Lotus feet)." The king and his queens were advised to go and worship the sacred footprints. As a result of the merit thus acquired, the two daughters Virai and Tarai, were reborn as Sutamati and Madhavi.

To resume our story. Initiated in Buddha Dharma, the goddess prevails on Manimekala to complete her spiritual education by learning the teachings of other religious persuasions. Towards this end, she instructs her in a mantra the chanting of which would enable her to fly through the air, disguised as a hermit. With these pronouncements, the goddess again leaves her.

Walking about the place, Manimekala meets the goddess Tivatilaki who recounts her own experiences. " On the high peak of Samanta Kuta, in the adjoining Island of Ratnadipa, there are the footprints of the Buddha. After offering worship to the footprints, I came to this Island long ago. Since then, I have remained here keeping guard over this seat under the orders of Indra. My name is Tiva-tilaki, the Light of the Island. Those who follow the Dharma of the Buddha strictly and offering worship to this Buddha seat will gain knowledge of their previous birth."

" In front of this seat there is a little pond full of cool water overgrown with lotuses. From that pond will appear a never failing alms bowl, by name Amrita Surabhi (Endless Nectar). The bowl once belonged to Aputra and appears every year on the full moon day in the month of Rishabha, in the fourteenth asterism, the day on which the Buddha himself was born. That day and hour are near. That bowl will presently come into your hand. Food put into it by a pure one will be inexhaustible. You will learn all about it from Aravana Adigal, who lives in your own city."

Circumambulating the pond, the bowl emerges from the water and reaches her hands. Delighted at this, Manimekala chants praises of the Buddha. The last line of the chant alludes to the Buddha's services to the Nagas : " Hail holy feet of Him who rid the Nagas of their woes."

How the bowl found its way to Nagadipa is another story 2 Manimekala now flies back to Kaveripattinam. Meeting her mother and Sutamati, she recounts her experiences. All three go to the Sage Aravana Adigal. The sage narrates to her the story of the miraculous bowl. As the story ends, Manimekala dons the robes of a Bhikkuni and with the begging bowl in her hand, makes her way through the streets of the city.

The news reaches Prince Udaya Kumaran of Manimekala's presence in her own Madurai and her attentions to the poor and forlorn. The prince goes to find her. Seeing her as a Bhikkuni, he asks her why she has taken to this austere life. She makes appropriate reply. Unable to resist the prince's advances, she disguises herself as Kayasandigai, so as to escape his attentions. Meanwhile, Kanjanan, the husband of the real Kayasandigai, mistakes Manimekala in her disguise, as his wife. Manimekala does not respond to Kanjanan's words. This infuriates Kanjanan, who suspects Udaya Kumaran to be his wife's lover, and kills him.

Manimekala now continues in her wanderings and finally reaches Conjeeveram. Here she waits upon Aravana Adigal, who instructs her in Buddha Dharma. Manimekala from now settles herself to the dedicated life of a Buddhist Bhikkuni.

1 Of the character and functions of this Goddess, Paranavitana enlightens us : " This Goddess appears in a number of Sinhalese and Pali works. Her chief job appears to be the guardianship of the sea." Quoting Rajavaliya' we are told, " Viharamahadevi, the mother of Duttugemunu, who was offered by her father as a sacrifice to the sea Goddess, was brought ashore by this very Goddess at Magama in Ruhuna where she found her future husband." (Paranavitana : Ceylon Literary Register, 1931).

That Manipallavam is an Island, is obvious from the reference in the Manimekalai to " the sea girt land of Manipallavam," the Island where " stood the seat of the Buddha " � the seat for which " there appeared in contest two Naga kings from the Southern Regions each claiming the seat for himself." This specific allusion to the gem-set seat and the Buddha appearing and making peace between the warring princes, make it abundantly clear that the Island meant is Nagadipa, or the Jaffna Peninsula itself, for at this time the name seems to have been extended to refer to the whole Peninsula as the Mahavamsa has it. Another pointer is the name Pallavam, Tamil for the sprout of a tree, the projecting top of the Peninsula thrusting itself into the sea, having all the look of the sprout of a tree. There is also the view that this idea may be at the back of the names of the later Pallavas bearing the suffix "ankura" meaning in Sanskrit, a sprout, in their surnames. (Rasanayagam, C.: Ancient Jaffna, p. 81).

2 Salli, the faithless wife of a Brahmin Appachikan, deserted her husband. She gave birth to a child whom she left by the wayside. Attracted by the cries of the child, it was looked after by a cow. In time, the child was adopted by a kind Brahmin. The child thus got the name Auputhiran � the cow's son. The boy, as he grew up, denounced animal sacrifices. Matters came to a head one night when he rescued a cow consecrated for sacrifice the next morning. He was discarded by his adopted parents. Auputhiran fled to Madurai and took refuge in a pilgrims' rest home. Touched by his charitable disposition to feed the poor, Saraswati bestowed on him the miraculous rice bowl, with which he fed man and beast. In time, Indra moved by his charities, appeared before Auputhiran and volunteered to grant him whatever boon he desired. " What greater boon can you give me than the pleasure of feeding the hungry " he replied. This curt reply displeased Indra. The land soon grew so fertile with seasonal rains, that the people had no more need for Auputhiran's rice bowl. Seeing his mission in this land at an end, he decided to leave the country and took ship.

The ship weighed anchor at the uninhabited island of Manipallavam and sailed away without him. Thus stranded on the island, Auputhiran starved himself to death. Before he died, he deposited the bowl in a pond nearby with the prayer that it should appear once a year and come into the hands of the virtuous. His prayer was fulfilled in time on a particular Vesak day when Manimekala got possession of it.

S.J.Gunasegaram on Manimekalai

Manimekalai is the heroine of the Buddhist Classic in Tamil entitled �Manimekalai� � the only epic of the type in the whole range of Buddhist literature.  It is the composition of a Tamil Buddhist merchant known as Sattanar.  The consensus of opinion among Tamil scholars is that the work belongs to the second century, the period following the Sangam classics.

The author was a friend of Ilanko (the young Prince), a younger brother of Senguttuvan, the king associated with the dedication of the temple to Pattini, or Kannakai (Kannaki) � the chaste. Ilanko was the illustrious author of Silappathikaram (The Epic of the Anklet), and these two Tamil classics have often been referred to as �Twin Epics�.

C. R. Reddy in his foreward to �Dravidian India�, by T. R. Sesha Iyengar, calls Manimekalai a �supreme pearl of Dravidian poesy�.1  �The investigation and enquiry into Tamil literary tradition� says Krishnaswamy Iyangar, �leads to the conclusion that it is a work of classic excellence in Tamil literature and may be regarded as a Sangam work in that sense�.2

The same scholar refers to it as a �Tamil Treatise on Buddhist Logic�.  Prof. S. Vaiyapuri Pillai refers to it as �this great classic�.3  M. D. Raghavan (�Times of Ceylon�, 1.5.58), writing on the contribution of Tamils to religious system of the Island (Ceylon) says, �It will always remain a sense of pride to us that the greatest if not the only classical epic of Theravada Buddhism exists in the Tamil language.  The poetry of Manimekalai (2nd century A.D.) remains one of the finest jewels of Tamil poetry.�

In contrast Sinhalese writers of recent times, either because their knowledge of Tamil literature is scanty or because they have failed to note the opinions of scholars who rank it high among the Tamil classics, refer to it merely as a �poem�.  Dr. Malasekera alludes to the conflict between the Naga kings found in the �Tamil poem Manimekalai�, mentioned in the Mahavamsa (6th century).4

While the Mahavamsa places the scene of the battle at Nagadipa,5 the earlier chronicle, �The Dipavamsa� (4th C.), says, that the battle was fought in Tambapanni,6 i.e., the North of Ceylon.  The Manimekalai gives the name of the scene as Manipallavam, identified by Rajanayagam Mudaliar as North Ceylon.7

Dr. Paranavitane refers to Manimekalai as �a Tamil poem, a work attributed to the second century of the Christian era�, and adds that the goddess Manimekalai after whom the heroine of the work is named seems to have been a patron saint of the sea faring people of the Tamil land who professed the Buddhist faith.  The same writer refers to a non-canonical Pali work which �contains a very old legend of South Indian origin.  The work states that one of the six stupas had been built by Tamil merchants.�8

Dr. Paranavitane quotes Rajavalia (which he calls �a Sinhalese historical work of the 17th century) where we are told that she would be the mother of Duttugemunu (�Vihara-Devi� now �Vihara Maha-Devi�), who had been offered by her father as a sacrifice to appease the sea-gods.  She is said to have been brought by the goddess Manimekalai across the sea to Magama, where she found her future husband.  What Dr. Paranavitane describes as �a Singhalese historical work�, Prof. Vaiyapuri Pillai says, �is not of any historical value and cannot be relied upon�.9  Dr. Mendis in his Early History of Ceylon has expressed a similar opinion.10

Two facts, however, emerge from these references.  The tradition accepted in Ceylon that the goddess Manimekalai was the patron saint of early Tamil merchants, point to a very early period in the history of Ceylon during which Tamil Buddhist influence had reached the Island.

The Dipavamsa (4th C.) and the Mahavamsa (6th C.), the Pali Buddhist Chronicles of Ceylon, refer to the conflict between two Naga Princes of North Ceylon for the ownership of the Island.  The quarrel is said to have been settled by Buddha himself.  The two references, though there are differences in detail, are found in the Manimekalai.  It is unlikely that the Tamil author of Manimekalai could have had access to the Pali Chronicles of Ceylon composed and preserved in some remote Vihara in the Island.  Unless and until an earlier common source for the story could be cited, the Manimekalai should be assigned to a date earlier than that of the Mahavamsa and the Dipavamsa.

The consensus of opinion among students of Tamil literature has been that the classic Manimekalai belongs to the 2nd century A.D., though not a Sangam work.  Prof. Vaiyapuri Pillai, a fellow worker with K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, (a distinguished historian and South Indian Sanskritist who has striven to establish the priority and supremacy of Sanskrit literary influences in the South), has challenged the date attributed to Manimekalai and post dates it.  He adduces a number of arguments to show that the Manimekalai and the connected classic Silappathikaram are assignable to the 8th century, but accepts that the former was an earlier composition.11

As already indicated below, Prof. Vaiyapuri Pillai rejects the tradition recorded in the Sinhalese Chronicle Rajavalia.  Although unreliable and comparatively recent, the Rajavali records a persistent tradition in Ceylon regarding the introduction of Pattini (Kannaki) worship to Ceylon by Gajabahu I, in the 2nd century A.D.  There is clear mention in the Silappathikaram that Gajabahu was present at the dedication of the temple to Pattini by Cheran Senguttuvan.12  That Cheran Senguttuvan was an eminent king of the Sangam age is well known.

Prof. Vaiyapuri Pillai holds that the most important statement from a historical standpoint that Gajabahu of Ceylon was present at Senguttuvan�s court stands singularly uncorroborated.  He admits however that Manimekalai corroborates the statement in the Silappathikaram that it was at Senguttuvan�s capital, the consecration of Kannaki�s temple took place; but doubts that Gajabahu was present at the ceremony because the Manimekalai does not mention Gajabahu.

Neither Manimekalai nor Silappathikaram is a historical work.  The poet chooses incidents that are relevent to his thesis.  That the author of the Manimekalai has failed to corroborate its �twin epic� about the presence of Gajabahu I of Ceylon at Senguttuvan�s Court does not prove Prof. Vaiyapuri Pillai�s case, although such corroboration would have been helpful.  But it has been pointed out that both the works agree that the consecration was at the capital of Cheran Senguttuvan who is known to have ruled in the 2nd century A.D.

Again that Paranar, one of the illustrious poets of the Tamil Sangam age, has failed to mention in his poem on Senguttuvan anything about the installation of Kannaki as deity or about Ilanko being Senguttuvan�s brother or about Gajabahu � should not be taken as a serious argument to support the Professor�s case.  Not all the works of Paranar and of the Sangam age have come down to us.  It depends, moreover, what religious views Paranar held for him to consider the dedication of the temple of Kannaki as an important event.  Ilanko (which merely means the young Prince) himself might have been too young to have merited notice by Paranar.  It is admitted that both Manimekalai and Ilanko�s works are post Sangam classics.

The Professor�s most unconvincing of all arguments from silence is his emphasis on the fact that the Mahavamsa hasfailed to state anything about Gajabahu�s attendance at the consecration ceremony, at the Chola capital or of the introduction of Pattini (Kannaki) worship to Ceylon.

Of the Mahavamsa it has been pointed out that �not what is said but what is unsaid is its besetting difficulty�.  One does not expect a monkish chroniclar bent on the �edification of the pious� Buddhists to refer to an illustrious king of Anuradhapura introducing a Hindu Cult.  It is well known that Gajabahu I, if not a Hindu, was without doubt a king with Hindu leanings.  This probably accounts for the scant attention paid to the reign of this king in the pious Buddhist romance.

The fact appears to be that Prof. Vaiyapuri Pillai finds support in the statement made by Prof. Jacobi to the effect the logic of Manimekalai is more or less a copy of Nyayapravesa of Dignaga attributed to the 4th century A.D.

Prof. Vaiyapuri Pillai in a note to his appendix in the History of Tamil language and literature, p. 189, says:

�It is well known that the author of the Manimekalai is indebted for this section to Dignaga�s Nyayapravesa�..  Professor Jacobi renders it very probable that Dignaga, perhaps even Dharmakirti, was known to this classic in Tamil.�

Prof. Vaiyapuri Pillai seems to have ignored the fact that long ago Dr. S. Krishnaswamy Iyangar, a recognised authority on the Manimekalai, had convincingly rebutted Prof. Jacobi�s assumption that the Buddhist logic of Manimekalai is derived from that of Dignaga�s Nyayapravesa.  He has stated in clear terms that, �We have good reason for regarding Manimekalai as a work anterior to Dignaga�.13 

Discussing the �clear cut, succinct statement, found in the Manimekalai of the main Buddhist theory of the �The four truths�, �The twelve Nidanas�, and the means of getting to the correct knowledge, which ultimately would put an end to �Being��.  Dr. S. Krishnaswamy Iyangar says, �There is nothing that may be regarded as referring to any form of Mahayana Buddhism, particularly the Sunyavada as formulated by Nagarjuna.  One way of interpreting this silence would be that Nagarjuna�s teaching as such of the Sunyavada had not yet travelled to the Tamil country to be mentioned in connection with the orthodox teaching of Buddhism or to be condemned as orthodox.�14

Again Iyangar points out that in Chapter XXX of Manimekalai, �the soul referred seems clearly to be to the individual soul and not to the universal soul�.  He adds, �These points support the view to that which we were led in our study of the previous book, and thus make the work clear one of a date anterior to Dignaga and not posterior.�15

Dr. S. Krishnaswamy Iyangar clinches his argument by reference to the Chola rule at Kanchi.  �Kanchi is referred to as under the rule of the Cholas yet, and the person actually mentioned as holding rule at the time was the younger brother of the Chola ruler for the time being.  Against this Viceroyalty an invasion was undertaken by the united armies of the Cheras and the Pandyans which left the Chera capital Vanji impelled by earth hunger and nothing else, and attacked the Viceroyalty.  The united armies were defeated by the princely viceroy of the Cholas who presented to the elder brother, the monarch, as spoils of war, the umbrellas that he captured on the field of battle. This specific historical incident which is described with all the precision of a historical statement in the work must decide the question along with the other historical matter, to which we have already adverted.  No princely viceroy of the Chola was possible in Kanchi after A.D. 300, from which period we have a continuous succession of Pallava rulers holding sway in the region.  Once the Pallavas had established their position in Kanchi, their neighbours in the west and the north had become others than the Cheras. 

From comparatively early times, certainly during the 5th century, the immediate neighbours to the west were the Gangas, and little farther to the west by north were the Kadambas, over both of whom the Pallavas claimed suzerainty readily recognized by the other parties.  This position is not reflected in the Manimekalai or Silappathikaram.  Whereas that which we find actually and definitely stated is very much more a reflection of what is derivable from purely Sangam literature so called.  This general position together with the specific datum of the contemporaneity of the authors to Senguttuvan Chera must have the decisive force.  Other grounds leading to a similar conclusion will be found in our other works, �The Augustan Age of Tamil Literature� (Ancient India, chapter xiv), �The Beginnings of South Indian History�, and �The Contributions of South India to Indian Culture�.  The age of the Sangam must be anterior to that of the Pallavas and the age of the Manimekalai and Silappathikaram, if not actually referable as the works of the Sangam as such, certainly is referable to the period in the course of the activity of the Sangam.�16

The Manimekalai is an exposition of Hinayana Buddhism.  Hinayana as distinct from Mahayana, is a Southern school � an earlier school � of Buddhism than Mahayana.

The Ceylon tradition that Buddhaghosa, in the 5th century, had to come over to the Island from the Tamil country in South India to write the commentaries on the earlier Pali texts on Hinayana into pure Magadhi is an indication that in the 5th century itself Mahayana had become dominant in South India.  This tendency finds further support in the introduction of a form of Mahayanist teaching into Ceylon (the doctrine referred to as the Vaituliyan heresy) in the previous century, by the Chola monk Sanghamitta, the friend of Mahasena, king of Anuradhapura.17

Moreover the reference in Manimekalai to the popularity of Buddhism in Javakam indicates that Manimekalai had been written long before Mahayanism became the dominant form of Buddhism under the Sailendra Empire, in islands such as Java and Sumatra.

Sir R. Winstedt attests to the fact that the Buddhist story of Manimekalai left by the Tamil merchants� Sumatran folklore had been retold in the Malay Peninsula and written down in modern times.18

Again it has been shown that the earlier Sangam works as well as Manimekalai and Silappathikaram make no references to the Pallavas who ruled at Kanchi from 325 A.D.19 But all the references in the Manimekalai are to the earlier Chola kings such as Nalankilli and Ilankilli.  Prof. Vaiyapuri Pillai apparently ignores these evidences.


For a full discussion of the question of the date of Manimekalai, reference to Prof. Vaiyapuri Pillai�s �History of Tamil literature�, p. 142, may be made.  His arguments to give it a comparatively late date had been met by Dr. S. Krishnaswamy Iyangar in his introduction to his �Manimekalai in its Historical Setting�, published by the South India Saiva Siddhanta Publishing Society, Madras.

The influence of Manimekalai and Silappathikaram on Sinhalese Literature:

Reference may be made to Dr. Godakumbura�s �Sinhalese Literature�, pages 279-288, to form some idea of the Tamil literary and religious sources which had inspired Sinhalese literature after the dethronement of Pali as the vehicle of expression of foreign Buddhist monks.

Dr. Godakumbura remarks that �after the 16th century, when few could read the Dharma in its original Pali or even comprehend the compendiums written in Sinhalese�, Vanijasuriya wrote the Devadath Kathaya in Sinhalese verse.

Commenting on the very great popularity of the story of Pattini in Sinhalese villages, Dr. Godakumbura writes:

�Literature, dealing with Pattini and the origin of the worship, is very large, and most of it has come from Tamil sources.  The Silappathikaram and Manimekalai are the two main classics dealing with the story of Kannaki and Kovalan�..

�It is quite possible that some popular poems existed in Tamil and these and not the classics were the sources of the numerous ballads about the Goddess.�

Dr. Godakumbura also tells us that Vyanthamala by Tisimahla, �gives a brief description of the Chola king in the classical style and that the author�s description of the dancing of Madavi (the mother of  Manimekalai), �is one of the finest in the whole field of Sinhalese poetry�.

(Pattini-Kannaki � the heroine of Silappathikaram was the wife of Kovalan and Madavi was Kovalan�s lover.  Manimekalai, the heroine of �Manimekalai�, was the daughter of Madavi by Kovalan).

            Dr. Godakumbura then gives a fairly comprehensive list of Sinhalese writings based on the story of Silappathikaram and of deities popular among the Tamils � deities such as the God of Kataragama (Murugan), Ganesha, the brother of Murugan, and Vishnu � all attributed to stories from Tamil sources.


1. �Dravidian India�, by Sesha Iyengar, Luzac & Co., London.

2. �Manimekalai in its Historical Setting�, by Dr. S. Krishnaswamy Iyangar, Preface p. VII.

3. �History of Tamil Language and Literature�, by S. Vaiyapuri Pillai, p. 155.

4. �Vamsattha Pakkasini�, Commentary on the Mahavamsa, by Dr. G. P. Malalasekera, Vol. 1. Int. p. LXXVI.

5. Mahavamsa, Ch. 1, V. 47.

6. Dipavamsa, Ch. ii, V. 3.

7. �Ancient Jaffna�, p. 26.

8. C. L. R., Vol. 1, No. 1, Jan; 1931.

9. Vaiyapuri Pillai, ibid, n. p. 144.

10. The Early History of Ceylon�, Dr. G. C. Mendis, 1954 Edition, p. 25.

11. Vaiyapuri Pillai, ibid. pp. 139-155.

12. Culavamsa I, Int. p. V.

13. Krishnaswamy Iyangar, ibid. Int. p. XXVIII.

14. Ibid. Int. pp. XXVIII-XXIX.

15. Ibid. Int. pp. XXVIII-XXIX.

16. Ibid. Int. pp. XXVIII-XXIX.

17. MHV. Ch. XXXVII, vv. 2-5.

18. Malaya � A Cultural History�, by Sir Richard Winstedt, p. 139.

19. Buddhism and Tamil��, ibid. p. 200.




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