'Play and Politics: A New Study of Cilappadikaram – An ancient Tamil epic' talk by Prof. Indira Parthasarathy, well-known Tamil writer, Sahitya Akademi and Sangeet Natak Akdemi Awardee.
‘Cilappadikaram’ the ancient Tamil classic is an epic with a difference in its unusual title (‘The Story of an Anklet’), with an unconventional hero and two wronged women as the lead women characters. The epic, treated as a play, is all about gender politics, and nationalistic aspirations. The ‘heroine’ and ‘the other woman’ suffer for no other reason than being women. The heroine suffers injustice from the husband and from the king of the neighbouring country. As it happens with our fables, the suffering woman is deified only after her death; ‘the other woman’ embraces Buddhism, the Hindu religion having failed her. The Chera king, who constructs a temple to deify the heroine, invades the Northern region to bring the sacred stone from the Himalayas, using the tragedy of this situation as an emotional and cultural slogan for his political aspirations.