The Legend of Nandan : Nandan Kathai

Indira Parthasarathy. Translated by C.T. Indra, OUP, 2003, xx, 82 p, ISBN : 0195664213, $11.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Contents: Introduction. The legend of Nandan. Appendices: 1. Appar’s Tevaram, IV Tirumurai (IV 81.4). 2. Appar’s Tevaram, VI Tirumurai (VI 55.6). 3. Devotional poetry in Tamil. 4. St. Sekkizhar’s Periya Puranam: the Puranam of Tiru Nalai-p-povar. References. Critical theory and a reading of Nandan Kathai: Hindu culture as a text by C.T. Indra.

"Published in 1978 in Tamil, The Legend of Nandan is a superbly contemporary drama about a seventh-century hero in a clash between high-caste Hindus and the suppressed people of a typical Tamil village.

"Nandan, a bonded labourer, is deeply discontended with his servile existence, and yearns for a better way of life for himself and his people. His artistic appreciation of the dancing Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram temple leads him to seek and receive a darshan of the deity. The upper-caste Hindus begin to feel threatened by the rise of Nandan, and enlist the help of the ‘learned’ Vedic Brahmin, who misuses Nandan’s piety and deceives him into submitting himself to a fire-bath in front of the Lord, so that he may emerge ‘purified’. Thus, Nandan’s ambitious ascent from his low birth is effectively cut short.

"The story of Nandan can be interpreted as a saga of the suffering of suppressed people everywhere. It deconstructs the original legends of Nandan which are inalienable to Hindu culture, and challenges society’s canonization of bhakti and religious fervour.

"This play will appeal to students and scholars of Tamil literature, South Asian literature in translation, and Indian theatre, as well as the general reader." (jacket)

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