Archive for the ‘Translation’ Category


Fulfilling Sivakami’s Oath

Review of Sivakamiyim Sabatham Volumes 3 and 4; English translation by Nandini Vijayaraghavan; Pothi 2012; pp 249

– Shana Susan Ninan

Much of the action in the third volume of this literature is centred on the life after the siege of the Kanchi Fort. Naganandi Adigal, the Buddhist bikshu and secret admirer of Sivakami gets prominence as her savior. Once the young prince, Mamallan and his chief aide Paranjyothi set out to seek revenge on Pulikesi, there’s no turning back. But in a clash of events, Pulikesi and his Vatapi army take Sivakami hostage and Aayanar’s leg is maimed in the process. The father and daughter are separated, and she’s ‘imprisoned’ in the Vatapi Palace. Although she refuses to dance at the request of Pulikesi, she’s forced to dance at street corners in order to spare prisoners from Kanchi from being beaten up.

The fourth and last volume is a somber one – marked by the destruction of the city of Vatapi and Sivakami’s realisation about Mamallar’s queen consort and children. Earlier, before he breathed his last, Mahendra Pallavar secured the permission of the Ministers’ Council to wage war against Vatapi and to get Sivakami back to Kanchi. He also emotionally blackmails his son Mamallar to agree to a wedding he wasn’t dreaming of.

The emotions portrayed in the book vary from jealousy and pride to anger and haste. And it’s explained and characterised in a befitting manner. Egotistic Sivakami is a tad bit late to understand that her oath of leaving the Vatapi city only after Mamallar raises to the ground and seeks her hand makes things hard for all, especially the citizens. Mamallar and Paranjyothi once visit Vatapi in disguise and ask Sivakami to join them, but she refuses saying she would leave the city only after the oath’s fulfilled. What happens then is a war of emotions and feelings. Sivakami with her stubbornness and Mamallar with his pride. Suffice to say that it took 10 years to prepare for her release. And in between, Naganandi has his own plans – for himself and for his brother Pulikesi’s kingdom.

Nandini’s translation is poetic and precise, lending a lyrical voice to the narration. My only bone of contention is the clamping together of dialogues into paragraphs, without clear demarcation between the speakers. The ending is poignant. Sivakami is released. Mamallar wins the war. Paranjyothi is the head of a victorious army. But are the three of them satisfied with how life has turned out?

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Rating: 10.0/10 (3 votes cast)

The Promise of Love and Life

Review of Sivakamiyin Sabadham Vol I and II; Kalki Krishnamurthy; English Translation by Nandini Vijayaraghavan;

– Shana Susan Ninan

Being the first review of a translated work of Indian Literature, on IBR, I was quite excited to even start reading the two volumes of Sivakamiyin Sabadham, a historical novel by Kalki Krishnamurthy. Written in the early 1940’s, it is a story revolving around the Pallava Dynasty, its kings and foes, the art and culture of the place and times, and of course, the people that made it colourful.

Based abroad, Nandini Vijaraghavan has beautifully translated this work of literature with flair and clarity. I’m sure even non Tamils, and even foreigners would find the books interesting. The first volume takes the reader to Kanchi’s doorsteps. The city was known in ancient days for its forward education and the arts.  This glorious city was famous all over Bharata Kanda, and a young Paranjyothi is seen approaching it with a bikshu he met en route, to study and live here.

When he reaches the city, he sees a commotion – the reason being an elephant running amok. Straight at the famous sculptor Aayanar and his danseuse daughter, Sivakami, who were returning from her arangetram that was stopped midway due to the king Mahendra Pallavar having to leave after hearing some urgent news. He flings his spear at the animal, killing it, and thus protecting the father and daughter.  This naive, young man is sent on a mission, way before he can start his discipleship under the Aayanar, something which he came to the city for, in the first place.

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Rating: 9.4/10 (7 votes cast)