Page Created by Jijith Nadumuri on 21 Nov 2011 19:47 and updated at 15 Dec 2011 17:05




venil kaatai


There was a king {mannan} named Maaran of great fame {chirappu}. The boundaries {varampu} of his Tamil {tamizh} land were the Venkatam hills {netiyon kunram} in the north and the Kumari sea {totiyol pelavam} in the south. Seated {irunt} in his excellent throne {araichuveer}, with his joyful friend {makizh tunai} viz the lord of Spring {venil}, he ruled this fertile lands {nal naatu} full of cool water sources {tan punal}. It had many cities like Maturai {maata maturai} full of multi storied buildings, the Urantai {pituaar urantai} of the mighty men, the Vanchi {kali kezhu vanchi} bustling with the noises of its busy people and Pukar, with its roaring waters {oli punal}. The southern wind come from the Potiyil hills of the great sage {maa muni} Agastya as a messenger {tuutan} proclaiming the coming of the Spring. A Koel {kuyil} from a garden {chola} thick with creepers {koti mitai} appeared singing {paatu pol} like this:- 'O soldiers in the army {chenai} of the young prince {maintan} having fish symbol on his white bananer {makara vel koti}! Put on your excellent robes {kolam}'. Thus the bird voiced the command of Kama as if it is the royal Herald {pataiyul patuvon} who proclaims the king's commands {pani mozhi} to his army with trumpet.

(netiyon kunram:- the hill of vishnu, tiruppati tirumala hills; netiyon:- tall man- vishnu grew tall in his vamana incarnation)


Matavi with her wide eyes {netun kan} like dark flowers {maa malar}, returned alone after her Love quarrel {uutal} with Kovalan in the Seaside garden {kaanal} where water sports {katal vilai y aatu} were still going on and where flowers continued shedding their petals {matal avizh}. She wished and longed {virumpi} for the return of Kovalan. She climbed {eri} up into the spring time room {venil palli} (used in the spring season) that lied to the one side {marunku} of the elevated upper floor {mel nilai} that appeared like touching the sky {vaanura}. Her breasts were adorned with excellent ornaments. The fronts of her breasts {konkai} were reddened with Kumkumam. She adorned them with Pearls {muttu} from the southern sea {ten katal} and Sandalwood paste {chantu} from the southern hills {ten malai}. She selected these flawles offerings as a befitting tribute to the spring.

She sat in a lotus posture. She wore a fine hand glove {kai urai} and took up the perfect Lute {yaal} in her hands {kai}. Then she sang {paati} a sweet song {matura keetam; skt. madhura geetam} and entered into a trance {mayanki}. She then started playing the same song in the lute. She played it by gripping the Screwpins {maatakam} of the lute with the four fingers [naal viral} of left hand {ita k kai} and by touching the neck {kottu} with the four fingers of her right hand {vala k kai} while the right hand thump is kept bent. In this way she played Chempakai, Aarppu, Kuutam and Atirvu. She knew {arintu} how to arrange the notes in order {virakuli} avoid any lack of harmony {vempakai} while rendering these songs on lute.

She played the series of fourteen {eer ezhu} notes {kovai} without deviating {pizhayaa} from the tradition {marapu}. She began wth the fourth and ended with the third. She played in Kaikkilai theme, beinning {mutal} and ending {iru} in fourth note {uzhai}. She took hint {kuri} of the voice {icai} by observing {nokki} the notes made by the second, fifth, sixth, third and fourth string. She played the first note {kural} on the fifth string. Then, without deviating from tradition she pulled the fifth {aintu} and the seventh {eezhu} strings by beginning and ending with the fourth note {uzhai} and by beginning and ending with the first note {kural}.

She strictly observed the three levels {muu vakai} of pitch {iyakkam}. She performed correctly the four types {naal vakai} of Ragas viz Akanilai Marutam, Puranilai Marutam, Arukiyal Marutam and Perukiyal Marutam. She then began the Tiram Raga which is developed from them. Finally she played the Puranilai Raga and Matavi went in to trance {mayanki}. She was like a flowering creeper {puun koti}.


Matavi took a garland {kattikai} made by tying togather different flowers like Champakam {chanpakam}, Matavi (flower), the dark opening buds {karu mukai} of Tamaalam (mysore gamboge), white colored Mallikai (malabar jasmine), Cuscus roots {ver}, the tender petals {aay ital} of the beautiful red Lily {am chen kazhu neer}. In the middle {itai nilam} of the garland, flowering buds {etir puu} were plaited. Frome there she took some white petals {ven tottu} of the Screwpine {taalai} having ripe flowers {mutir puu}. These ear lobe like petals where bent {mutankal} as a bow.

Kama {oru makan} of the Celestial world {viyan nilam} started living {vaazhi} inside the fragrant flowers {virai malar}. With his unique Scepter {chen kol}, he has brought under his command {aanai} the whole world {ulaku}. Everyone adored {tozhutu} and bowed {irainchu} unto him. Matavi wanted Kovalan, whose face she adores {tiru mukam}, to hear this good news {chev viyal} about this royal arrival, by sending a message through a letter {pokku}. She used the well mixed {alai} thick paste {kozhun cheru} of red Lac {alattaka} as the writing ink, which was kept near the wall {pittikai}. She took in her hand {kaikkontu} the strong bud {kozhu mukai} of Jasmine as the stylus {aani} for writting.

She wrote thus:-

' The one who unites {punark} all living beings {manuyir} with their Love mates {makizh tunai}, that Spring {venil}, that crwon prince {ilavara chaalan}, has come to our world {inila}. The rich and opulant {celvan} Moon {tinkal} which earlier appeared {tonri} to be bursting {arumpi} in the furnace {potakam} of the evening {anti} (a symbol of parting ways), is now seen as favorable and virtuous {cevviyan}.

There are some people {maakkal} who spend a few hours {pozhutu itai} in conjugal embrace {punarnta}. There are some others who parted ways {tananta} and forgot {marapp} their Love mates {tunai}. They both need to give {kotal} their sweet lives {nal uyir} to the one who dwells {vaazhi} inside the fragrant flower {narum puu}, viz Kama the god of Love. Be generous {irumpuutu} and do understand {arinti} this without hesitation {min ena}.'

(The above passage hiddenly means that everybody should subject themselves to the arrows of love, shot by kama, and thus allow him to 'take their lives'. This arrows of kama are assumed to be made of flowers. They are assumed to inflict passion and love on the targeted beings causing them to 'loose their lives', thus giving rise to 'new lives'. The god of spring, vasanta, is assumed to be a companion of kama, the god of love, as per the puranas that predates cilappatikaram. Here matavi wrote all this, as she wanted kovalan to remember this tradition and come back to her, obeying the command of kama.)

The Sixtyfour {enen; eight multiplied by eight} Arts {kalai; skt.kala} deserted her. The ability to sing {icaintu} Ragas and even Tirams sung by the slandering tounge {puran kuuru naavu} left her. The passion {kaamam} that arise in lonliness {tanip} caused these skills to fall off from her, like the petals of a flower falling off {avizhnta} one by one from its tip {talai vaay}. She talked repeatedly {virittu urai} in some kind of babble {mazhalai} spoken by innocent {vilaiya} kids and wrote {ezhuti} that letter to Kovalan. Her body became pale {pachanta meni} due to that sickening {patar uru} evening {maalai}.

Matavi then asked her maid Vasantamala to come {varuka}. She gave the garland {maalai} made of fresh flowers {tuu malar} to her. It contained the message {purul} for Kovalan written in a piece of cloth {tuni}. Giving it, she said:- 'Speak {alittu} this message to him. Make him compassionate about my thoughts expressed in this letter. Bring him back to me'. Vasantamala of wide spear like eyes {vel ari netun kan}, took {vaanki} the garland {maalai} and spoke {alippa} to Kovalan who was then in the streets of grain merchants {kuula maruk}.


Kovalan then spoke thus in reply:-

'The girl {maatar} had Tilakam (a small circular mark) and Alakam (curls of hair) on her forehead. Her eyebrows were small black bows {chiru karun chilai}. Her eye sockets were like Kuvalai (blue, purple indian water lily) and her nose was like Kumizh flower. Her lips were like the purple red Kovvai (coccinia indica) fruit. On her youthful face {vaal mukam} the seductive {matai iya} eyes {nokkam} were seen as moving {otu}. Then I felt like {tonri} I am in love {kaatal} with her. She then performed the dance of the meeting eyes {kan kuutu vari} (bringing her eyes close to mine).

Her hair was like a huge cloud {puyal}. Her face which was like the moon {mati} of bright rays {pozhi katir} emerging through the clouds. Her face burdened{varunti} by carrying the weight {chumantu} of her hair. She was like a Kayal fish twisting and turning {tiri} in the season {chevvi} of lustful desire {kaamar}. Her smile revealed {kaatti} her teeth which was like young {naaku ila} pearls {muttu} shining like moonlight {nilaa} when she opened {tirantu} her charming {paaku poti} coral {pavalam} mouth.

She came {vantu} when I asked her to come {varukena}. She went {poki} when I asked her to go {pokena} (as if she were some call girl). She, of the dark wide eyes {karu netun kanni}, once performed the dance named Kaanvari Kolam.

When that eventful evening {anti maalai} came {vantatarku}, she pretended lamenting {iranki} as if she were seperated from some lover! She was thus moking me, looking {nokki} at my smallness {chirumai} as my mind {chintai} was then stuffed {kuuru} with troubling thoughts {noy}.

She was so smart that the sweet talk {kilavi} of parrot {kili}, the walk {natai} of the swan {anna} or the gracefullness {chaayal} of the agile peacock {kali mayil} were no match for her. She, of wide eyes {netun kan} resembling lethal spears {cheru vel}, once came {vanta} to me in solitude {oru tani} and performed the Ulvari (masquerad) dance {aatal} in the costume {kolam} of her female companion {kilatiyar}.

The bells {vaay} of her Anklets {chilampu} made tinkling sounds {pulampa}. Her Girdle {mekalai} made knocking sounds {aarpa}. Her thin waist {nuchup} could not bear even a little weight {kalam peraa}. Her eyes {nokkam} were full of passion {kaatal}, but with it she looked {nokki} at my smallness {chirumai} as I was then separated {veru} from my prospirity {tirattu}. She then performed Punpura dances standing outside {purattu ninru} my house.

She had hair with some parts elongated and flowing down {kotai} and other parts curled up {kuzhal}. Some of her hair {alakam} curled up in front of her forehead. It was adorned with Pearls {muttam}. Her fleshy breast region {tiru mulai tatam} contrasted with her thin lightning waist {min itai} due to which her fine body {nan utal} appeared {tonri} as shaking {varutta}.

Her young {chiru kurun} friend {tozhiliyar} gave her my reply {maru mozhi}. It contained mention of my union {punarchi} with her which I had kept in memory {potint} and some disturbing {kalaam taru} words {kilavi}. She enquired {ketta} and grasped the true meaning {mozhi porul} of the words with dual meaning {iru pura}. She then appeared tired {talarnta chayal}. Then fastening her lovely hair {takaimen kuuntal} and devoid {veru} of pride {kilarntu} she danced the Kilarvari form {kolam} of dance as if she is parting from me.

Then I parted ways {pirintu} from her. During that period {kaalam} she started pleading {parinta} for my return and started talking {urait} about her {tan uru} grief {tuyaram} to many of my {en uru} friends and relations {kilaikam} again and again {terntu terntu}. Thus she performed the Terchi Vari, the dance of taking councel. She, who has her hair {kotai} adorned with flowers opened by bees, fainted {mayanki} once in the evening {maalai}. Next, she spoke about her sorrows to everyone she could see {kantavarkku}. Thus she performed the Kaatchi Vari, the dance of revelation. Occationally {aduttu aduttu}, she fainted {mayanki} in front of them {avar mun} and they {avar} lifted {eduttu} her up. This was her Eduttukol Vari, the dance of raising up. O Vasantamala! All these dances {aatal} adorn her like ornaments, making her like a damsel adorned with choice ornaments {aayizhai}, for she is just a dancing girl {aatal makal}!'


Vasantamalai wept {iranki}, seeing that things did not happen {paatu perr anaa} as expected. Kovalan refused to accept {maruttu} the letter {tiru mukam}. It was written {ezhutiya} on the ear lobe {tottu} (like petals of Screwpine) by Matavi who was then without her joy {tanakku ena}. She was then adorned with choice ornaments {aayizhai} and golden bracelets {paintoti}. The brightness of the precious Gem {mani} on her ear lobes {tottu} was then reflecting on her lovely face {tiru mukattu} expressing her expectation for a positive reply from Kovalan.

As the mission failed, Vasantamalai's heart {ul} became energy less {vaati} . She quickly reached {tunaintu chenru} Matavi who then appeared beautiful as a garland {kotai} with flower like soft skin {totu alar} in the expectation of a positive message. She told {uraippa} her about everything that Kovalan spoke.

Knowing everyting from Vasantamalai, Matavi of flower like {maa malar} wide eyes {netun kan} spoke to her with full of pain:- 'If he is not coming {varaar} to me in this evening {maalai} then we shall certainly see {kaan} him in the morning {kaalai}.'

She nested {vatintu} up alone in the bed {amali} full of flowers {puu malar} with an empty heart {kai aru nencham} and appeared like a water lily {kuvam}. Her eyelids did not come togather for sleep {poruntu}.


The red lotus {chen taamarai} blooms {viriyat}. The sprouts of sweet mango {kozhuntu} blows {ozhuka}. Asoka flowers opens {avizh} its petals {matal}. All these happens when the juvanile Spring season {ila venil} arrive. What will now happen {enaam kol inru} to mind {manam} of the lady with eyes bright like sharp spears {vala vel nar kanni}?

The Koels {kuyil} proclaimed {chaatta}:- 'To all of you, who have quarrelled {uuti} with your lovers and shed tears {neer}! Kama, the formless one {uru ilaan}, commands you to join {kuutu} with your lovers. In the Seaside garden {kaanar paa} you stood {nikku} and grieved {alantaay} (listening her song). In this Spring season {venar paa} you see {kaan} the letter {tiru mukam} written on soft flowers {men puun} by her, with whom you enjoyed love togather {nee kalanta aal}.'

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