Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Cilappatikāram is a classical Tamil work in verse interspersed with prose, of uncertain date, composed between the 3rd and 6th centuries C.E. It is ascribed to lḷañkō, a prince of the cēra dynasty who became an ascetic, abandoning the prerogatives of wealth and power.
The thesis examines ideas of fate, justice and apotheosis. On the surface, fate appears to be pervasive. Guilt is identified as an instrument for the working out of fate and a certain kind of knowledge is sought to be the solution to worldly woes. The notion of aṇuñku, affliction, is seen to have, as it were, a life of its own as the dynamic net of relations which binds characters and their actions together, providing channels for the action of fate.
Asking whether lḷañkō provides a viable religious solution to the breach between the experience of raw suffering and ideas of salvation, in the apotheosis of his protagonist, Kaṇṇaki, he is found to fail in precisely the way he is most generally appreciated as having succeeded. However, lḷañkō hints at a transcendental vision which provides a better prospector for success in the battle with sorrow.
MacPhail, Richard Donald, "Justice Foreknowledge, and Fate in the Cilappatikāram" (1988). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7199.
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