To the authors of Manimekalai - Part One

Written by: T Wignesan

                                             Part One

“Apart from its popular conception of transmigration, (which is) sometimes almost humouristic, Manimekhalai offers a documentary contribution of immense value, under an easily accessible form, on the philosophical speculations of Ancient India.
The cosmology of Sankya, the scientism of Vaisheshika, the logic of Nyaya, the materialism of Lokayata, originally related to the Ajivika tradition, (all of) which re-appeared with force in the Dravidian world following the Saivite renewal a little before the beginning of the Christian era. The(se) concepts which had little by little, during the course of centuries, influenced the Vedic tradition manifested themselves with force from then on in an autonomous way and went on to give birth to the philosophy of Mediaeval India.” 
             ( From Alain Danielou’s “Preface” in his and T. V. Gopala Iyer’s Manimékhalai )

To some the interest is in the reading hearing singing
To others in the Buddhist faith that moved the begetter(s)
To most the wondrous-unwonders of the story
   born in the Cilappatikaram
To a few in the monstrous bending of the verse in nilamantilavaciriyappa
To all time to parse in tongue-grinding heady rhymes
  initial rhymes
     end-rhymes
         alliterations
            antitheses
rigourous unsyntactic ellipses
    double syllabic feet
        four to the line
            the exceptions in three
all a mnemonic scaffolding of repetitive sound

For yet others after Catanar's warehouses in Puhar were long empty
the task of interpretation arose
Some sought to impute his motives to caste-enhancing kingly favours
  Some as Aravana Atigal's hagiographer
Some as a bodhisattva-feat acquirer
  Some as the anthologiser of myth and tradition
Some as the poet-laureate of a people's ancient lore
  Some as a collective grass-roots inspirational catalyser
Some as the hindu kings' proselytiser
  Some as a patron of a ghost-writer
Some perhaps as the first ecstatic copyist
  Some who knows as an unrepenting plagiarist

Who should care after all these years
Who wrote what and why
   no image rests of him
      nor the jetties and godowns of the Cola entrepôt
          nor whether some Yavana read to him
during the long monsoonal wait back for Rome
the feisty encounters of a Ulysses
or the airy goings and comings of the Olympian pantheon
      nor whether he cared to listen
being full of a pride of his own

(Continued in Part Two)