Monday, January 30, 2023

Paragon of justice

Interest in the Chozha dynasty was trending a couple of months ago, thanks to the release of Ponniyin Selvan, and it will once again see a spike in a couple of months when the second part of that movie releases. But Chozhas have (obviously) captivated the imaginations of folks from this part of the land for generations. One such, who has been held up as the epitome of impartial, unbiased administration of justice is Manu Needhi Chozhan, whose statue can be seen at the entrance of the High Court of Madras. 

"Manu Needhi" is the title given to him because of his impartiality in applying the law; his name was Ellala Chozhan - translating loosely as the "ruler of the borders". That is because his domain was present-day Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, where he ruled for about 40 years between 204 BCE and 164 BCE, finding for himself a place in the Mahavamsa, the 'Great Chronicle' of Sri Lanka's history. 

His sense of justice was so fine honed that he had his son punished for running over a calf to death. It is said that the calf's mother came to Ellalan's court, 'asking' for justice, and upon finding that it was his son's chariot that caused the death, Ellalan ruled that the prince be executed by running a chariot over him. That might be too high a bar to maintain, but at least the legend should help everyone seeing this statue remember that justice should be blind!

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