Thursday, June 19, 2008

What's that pedestal?

The Ramayanam is considered one of India's great epics, if not the greatest. Any re-telling of this saga has always been looked upon with interest and in recent years, with an eye on the vote-banks. In the 12th century CE, vote-banks wouldn't have been a factor; Kambar would have been attempting to bring contemporary relevance to Valmiki's 500-year old work by rendering it in Tamil, the language of his homeland. It is well acknowledged that Kambar's work is not a translation; he is supposed to have re-told the story in a crisper and more musical fashion, popularising it in a region where it was little heard of earlier.

But his legacy was put through the political wringer. For various reasons, the political system of 1950s Tamil Nadu knocked Kambar down at every opportunity. In 1968, when the World Tamil Conference was being held in Chennai, it was impossible to ignore Kambar (even though his greatest detractors were in power) and so this statue came up on the Marina. And yet, there was a subtle knock; while Kambar is generally referred to as Kavi Chakravarthi (emperor of poets), the description on the pedestal here titles him Kaviarasar (king of poets)!


Anush said...

well wat do u expect? the dravidians are nt gonna glorify a book tat portrays them as evil ppl.

aryan story-telling at its best!

Shantaram said...

>> cb>> Of course not! But I'd still consider Kambaramayanam Dravidian story-telling!