Silapathikaram (The Ankle Bracelet) is a tamil epic written by Ilango Adigal, a Tamil poet and the brother of king Senguttuvan, who ruled over the western coast of South India. Silapathikaram was written 1500 years ago (5th-6th century AD). Usually, Tamil epics begin with a ‘blessing song’ and Silapathikaram begins by praising the kindness and generosity found in nature – the moon, sun, and the rain. It then compares the benevolence of nature to the compassion of the Chola king.
The poet thanks the moon that wraps the Earth in cooling lights, much like the Chola king’s royal parasol (umbrella) protecting his subjects. Next, the poet thanks the Sun that endlessly circles the Meru mountain much like the image of the royal emblem of the beloved monarch of the land where the Kaveri flows. Ilango Adigal, the poet thanks, the mighty clouds and the rain it brings. The rain is generous, and so is the king who rules the land surrounded by the raging sea.
Adulation: The adulation the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers receive today dates back over a thousand years. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In the last 50 years or so, we have seen the folks in power receive excessive praise from people surrounding them. We have also heard praises like ‘You do so much good and you will be the Chief Minister forever’ (in the State of Tamil Nadu). We have to witness this on numerous occasions. A lot of this adulation is not deserved. The people also shift allegiance quickly based on who is ruling the state.
Reading this poem, one can understand that the adulation the rulers of the State receive dates back to over a thousand years. We have inherited this. It is interesting to note that things were not so much different (at-least in terms of the praise the kings received) over a thousand years ago. This poem is relevant even today.
Add on Notes: I have not read Silapathikaram and just happened to read a small poem from the sixth standard Tamil text book. Thanks to Tamizh Selvan for his assistance with editing this blog.