The Sangam Period and Silappadikaram Part-ll
Having left their old home at Puhar, kovalan and Kannagi undertake a new voyage of life to Madurai with the pair of gold anklets of Kannagi as their only asset. The road is long and arduous, the wayside perils are many, and kannagi is not too fit. The ascetic 'Mata' they meet under a tree-shelter generously offers to come as a fellow wavfarer in the difficult sojourn. A sudden attack by a rustic bully and his ladylove is fobbed off, thanks to the 'Mata'.
Avoiding missives from the pursuing Madhavi is a persistent task for Kovalan, as well as ignoring false directions, till they reach the local temple of Kartikeya, a Laka Deveta (folk god), deing propitiated by the village belles dancing and singing Jaya Jaya Shiva Suta Murugan... Unexpected hospitality from a simple village-women is a godsend for them, at which point the 'Mata' leaves them in her hands. The tearful couple finds shelter and succour at a new home and it is time for kovalan to try his luck in business in the bustling city of Madurai. The tired Kannagi settles down with the benevolent houdeholder eho even asks her teenager to arrange with friends some entertainment for her in the form of a kolattam folkdance, executed with striking sticks.
But for Kovalan in the unfriendly crowds of Madurai, traders are typically untrusting as in any other city. To make matters worse, his gold anklet has an uncanny resemblance to the queen's recently stolen piece of jewellery and the craft goldsmith has some sekeletons to hide! The king's court is agog with a classical danseuse displaying her Mohiniattamskills, to some discomfiture of the jealous queen, when the goldsmithbarges in and barges in and persuades the king to give him two armed escorts to catch the 'thief'. An unsuspecting Kovalan, tried and resting, is nudged awake and inspite of his protestation, is goaded to instant death. when the news reaches Kannagi, her indigation overcome her sorrow and she stride into the royal court, challenging the total miscarriage of justice. Once proven that it was a false accusation that led to her husband's murder, she rises in fury, cursing the whole town to burn out and ravaged by floods. The miracle does happen and the awed people put Kannagi on a goddess's pedestal leading to the penning of the epic.
Nehru concludes that in India during every period when her civilization bloomed, we find an intense joy in life and nature, the development of art, music, dance and literature, and even a highly sophisticated inquiry into sex relations. He though it to be inconceivable that a culture or view of life, based on other-worldliness or world-worthlessness, could have produced all these manifestations of vigorous and varied life!