(Last Updated on : 13-02-2012)
Manonmaniyam is a poetical play in Tamil language
which was composed by the much respected poet and author P. Cuntaram Pillai (P. Sundaram Pillai
). The work is the only poetical play which is read even at the present age and is considered as a piece of great literary work in Tamil literature
. The Tamil poet, P. Cuntaram Pillai (1855-1897) was a scholar in Tamil
and a professor of Philosophy. He was perhaps the foremost scholar who realised the absence of literary plays in Tamil literature and as a result of his efforts, Pillai composed the work of Manonmaniyam. Although Tamil the poetic play is based on the literary work The Secret Way written by Lord Lytton, it resembles a drama. P. Cuntaram Pillai's adaptation is based on only the theme and subject matter of The Secret Way, while the rest of the work of Manonmaniyam was created by the Tamil poet. The incantation to God, which is featured at the commencement of the play, reveals the love of the author for his mother tongue and the Tamil country.
Composition of Manonmaniyam
Eminent scholars consider the poems in Manonmaniyam as fascinating and soul stirring that praises the Tamil language. In the course of the play P. Cuntaram Pillai depicts the magnificence of the Tamil nation and its cultural heritage. The dialogues are constructed in manner to utilise some of the old Tamil proverbs skillfully. The work also effectively employs various ideas that are found in various important Tamil works like the Tirukkural
. In the play, the speech of the Pandya
king to his soldiers on the eve of the battle is pregnant with emotion and valour. The words invoke and inspire patriotic feelings within the readers. Several parts in the Tamil play Manonmaniyama is a classic example for its power to enkindle patriotism in the minds of readers.
P. Cuntaram Pillai also incorporated scenes in order to portray his scholarship in Vedanta
metaphysics. Still discussion on these two philosophical systems found in the conversation between the two disciples of Cuntaramunivar appears to be out of perspective in Manonmaniyama. Similarly, the maid Vani's display of the yal music describes the history of Civakami and bears resemblance to a more independent plot than music within the play.
Content of Manonmaniyam
The title of the play Manonmaniyam is derived from the name of the female protagonist in the play named Manonmani. She was the only daughter of the Pandya king Civakan. The other characters include Cuntaramunivar, who was the noble family guru and Kutilan, who was a treacherous minister. Purutottaman, the Chera
king of the neighbouring region desired to marry the Pandya princess Manonmani. Cuntaramunivar was interested in the marriage between the two dynasties due to his concern for the security of the Pandya kingdom. But as there was a border dispute between the Pandya and Chera kingdoms, no immediate steps could be taken to bring about the marriage of Manonmani.
On the other hand the shrewd minister Kutilan cautiously planned to get his son married to the Pandyan princess Manonmani and afterwards intended to take over the Pandya kingdom and become the new ruler. As the initial step, Kutilan exploited the border conflict which concluded in an armed conflict between the Pandya and Chera kingdoms. Civakan had to accept the marriage proposal of his immoral minister Kutilan while he was on the verge of defeat at the battleground. Princess Manonmani agreed to marry the son of the minister after witnessing the predicament of her father. The marriage was set for the midnight. At the prearranged time period the son of the evil minister Kutilan aws prepared to marry Manonmani and put a garland around her neck. But suddenly the Chera king Purutottaman appeared at the site and astonished all the spectators and captured Kutilan. Manonmani immediately put a garland around the neck of Purutottaman, the Chera king and married him. She was pleased that she could marry the person of her choice.
In the Tamil poetic play Manonmaniyama, Vani and her lover Natarajan are depicted as noble characters. These two pivotal characters are the representatives of the poet, who expressed a number of great truths.