Canadian Tamil Literature
 -V.N.Giritharan –
Translation By: Latha Ramakrishnan

A part of the world famous for THE New York City. The fifth floor of the building that once stood at a corner of Brooklyn.  I don’t know how many floors there are.  All that I know is that I am in the fifth floor of the structure.  That’s all.  And, to me this fifth floor is, as far as America is concerned, another world.  Fashionable hair-dos and fragrant flowers”, but underneath it all lice, lice and more lice…   

My American trip has also turned out to be just this.  The world’s great grand democratic country, highly prosperous and affluent!  Highly adventurous and possessing mighty power!  Till I set foot on this soil America remained a magnificent land that respected human rights.  But, my very first experience proved it all wrong.  ‘Could it be that your American experience was a wrong one..?’ – so I used to muse at times.  I would think of all other Americans belonging to my creed who lead a very successful life.   

Thus, the American society is one, which provides numerous ways and means to make money.  But, one should not forget that it was in this very same society that those experiences that confronted me did take place.  The Statue of Liberty stands for Justice, Freedom and Equality.  The Constitution of America also lays emphasis on man’s fundamental rights.  The other side all green for the Cow on this side.  So long as we remain on this side, everything looks ideal.  Only till we set foot inside.  

At this time of penning this, I am a young and upcoming writer.  I am one who is struggling in right earnest, against all odds, with the wish to experiment and achieve a lot in the World of Literature.  At the same time, I am a Tamil Canadian.  Only when I review my American experiences in today’s situation, very many a truth surface.  My three months experience in Brooklyn City (in the Detention Camp) and the one-year experience that I had in the New York City of America have helped me understand many things in a clearer and more comprehensive manner. They have enabled me to comprehend a lot of things in a better perspective. They have helped me understand more about the Truth about Life. Though the experiences were bitter, lessons drawn from those experiences are invaluable.  I have dedicated these experiences to all those who are in the various detention Camps of America as prisoners, with unfulfilled yearnings and expectations, waiting for their day of freedom, their release. 

Ah… I’ve even forgotten my name.  Ilango!  It is indeed my name.  My father was an ardent lover of the epic Silapadhikaram.  It was in the heat of that obsession he had given me this name.  Maybe because of this literary significance of my name that the taste for creative writing has come to stay deep-rooted in me…

The plane is soaring high smoothly, as if in a dream.  In four hours it would reach Boston.  Things have taken place in a flash.  With the news that thirteen army men were shot dead in Thinaiveli, the entire country came under the grip of chaotic violence and riots.  Around fifty cars owned by the Government Department in which I was working as an engineer, were parked in the front lot.  None of them came forward to help. In the end, somehow managing to escape along with another engineer of U.N.D.P.. who was working in another branch, when I reached Ramakrishna Hall in Wellavathai hoodlums had surrounded that area as well.  At that time, there were about fifty people in the hall.  All of us ran to the terrace.  Women and some of the men hid themselves in the space underneath the water tank .  The rest of us hid ourselves behind the pillars that stood protruding on the terraceWe could see foreign tourists taking photographs of our hurried attempts to hide ourselves from the Brighton Hotel that stood opposite our building.  People who had been driven out of their homes in Vellavathai area could be seen running with all their families in the direction of Thengivali along the railway track.  From Vellavathai, thick smoke was rising high and spreading in all directions.  Aged Tamil women could be seen running along the railway track, holding their saris knee high.  It was definitely a pathetic sight to see, but there was nothing I could have done. 

The hoodlums had set ablaze a Colombo bus that was standing on the lawns in front of the Ramakrishna Hall.  They smashed all the glass-panels on the ground floor doors and windows.  When they tried to set the hall on fire the police, who were till then happily watching it all, entered inside. 

For a long time, we were staying inside that hall. We fed ourselves by cooking our own food with what little we could get there. That very night we left the place in lorries and reached Saraswathi Hall.  When we helped them get into those vehicles, the women cried. None knew the destinationWe remained in Saraswathi Hall as refugees for about two months till we could leave for Columbo in the vessel named Chidhambaram. 

  Even when we were sailing to Colombo in the vessel, never once did it cross my mind that I would be going abroad.  My parents felt that in the prevailing situation where war and bloodshed had intensified, it would be better if I went somewhere else.  At this point, the news that people could proceed to Canada as refugees reached my ears. My aunt’s money proved a great help for my trip across the seas. U.T.A. Before I had time to sit and evaluate the pros and cons of the situation, I had already left for Canada with the help of an agent. From Kathunayake to Paris, then from there, heading towards Boston through T.W.A.  From Boston to Montreal Delta Airlines had successfully overcome its first round of hurdles. In Paris, they raised objection saying that they would not allow us to go to Canada without a visa.  When we explained to them that visa was not necessary for one from a Commonwealth Country they eventually agreed.  The next blockade would be in Boston.  If that would also be successfully dealt with, then, straight to Canada. Once we reach Montreal, then, no futher hurdles.  There was hope that Canada would not send back refugees. 

“What Ilango? You seem to be deep in thought…right?” Arulraja asked.  He was an accountant.  He too was going to Canada as a refugee, like me.  He had got married a little while ago, but the recent riots had unsettled him greatly.  The adverse impacts of the riots had driven him out of his very own soil.  He had the misfortune of being an eyewitness to the rape of his co-worker, a Tamil girl, at the hands of the heartless monsters. 

He who was yet to recover from that trauma said, “I was just pondering over the  sort of welcome that would be waiting for us where we go?” 

“Seems like there won’t be much problems.  But, it appears that in this flight at least five men of our soil are there.”  

“True, that is indeed a problem. Yet, it does appear to me that everything would be ok.”  When we were conversing thus, our plane slowly descended for a safe landing in the Logan International Airport. In all, our people were five.  And, we all were sailing in the same boat, to put it figuratively. As five of us had come in the same flight the Airport officials grew suspicious.  After affixing the stamp of ‘transit visa’ on all our tickets, the Delta Airline officials refused to give them back.  They kept the five of us in one part of the airport under the surveillance of the Police. We all grew apprehensive wondering what would happen next.  Most of us had made the trip possible after mortgaging our houses and buying tickets and visas with the interest money.  When such being the case, if we were to be sent back …Hours sped by.  We arrived at the airport at 2 p.m, and five hours had elapsed. Hunger started gnawing at our stomachs. Fatigue had come to prevail on our countenances. All the five of us became familiar with each other. Rajasundaram was working as the manager of a Sri Lankan bank.  Now, leaving his wife and children behind, he had set out  in search of a new life at his advanced age.  Another one of the five was Sivakumar.  He must have been in his thirties, but he had already started to bald.  He worked in Maharaja in Colombo. Unmarried.  Ravindran seemed to be in his late teens, say, eighteen or nineteen.  He was a student of Rathmalana Hindu College studying in A-Level.  In the midst of our conversation, an immigration official had approached us.  He reported that we would be sent back to Colombo by 10 pm by Swiss Air Flight and advised us to be ready.  We became a little  afraid. Would we  be actually sent back? 

Meanwhile, Rajasundaram said, “Looks like they are forcing us to go back. Whatever problem confronts us, we should protest!”  Then, the same immigration officer who had brought the bad news earlier had re-appeared for some reason.   

Hunger was eating us. Unable to control himself, before the official said anything; Sivakumar asked, “Sir, we are all hungry.  Will you please allow us to buy something? We would be really grateful if you do.”  

 “You can have your breakfast in Colombo,” the official responded sarcastically to Sivakumar’s courteous words.  Anger welled up in all of us, but then, it would be of no use..  The official had come with all the necessary ‘boarding pass’ for our return journey. He called out our names to issue the boarding passes.  None of us stirred. We kept quiet. We silently watched his face growing dark in anger. Meanwhile, a female immigration officer came there. Seeing a female gave us hope.  We explained to her our situation and that of our country. And, she proved very attentive.  

Rajasundaram said, “Madam, we have left our place with great difficulty, and, after undergoing much travails we have set out for Canada.  As far as Canada is concerned, we don’t need any visa.  We are really at a loss to understand why Delta Airlines is not accepting our tickets.”   

The female officer responded, “I too feel that legally it is wrong on their part to refuse entry to you, but we are helpless in this matter. The Government of Canada already has ordered them to pay fine for having alighted three Srilankan Tamils in Canada.  Such is the state of affairs and we are not in a position to do anything in this issue.” 

For this, Rajasundaram replied, “In this condition, we have no other alternative but to claim refugee status in America.  So, we are all applying for that in America.”  When Rajasundaram voiced this request for the ‘refugee-status’ the female officer’s face underwent a change of expression.  We also noticed that the other immigrant officer’s countenance shed some of its scowl.   

The female officer who went somewhere with our requisition in mind and came back without much delay. “As you have applied for refugee status they have decided not to send you back. You are all happy, no?” Nodding ‘yes’ we looked at Rajasundaram with gratitude. 

The proverb “Even after the rain stops, the drizzle still continues” was fully applicable in our case. We were made to stay in the Hilton hotel for two days.  In the Boston’s Globe, News relating to us was given prominence.  They had published our photographs too.  In ‘Voice of America’, ‘BBC’ and other Channels, the News about us was an important topic.  It was when the Ethnic Violence of Sri Lanka was hot News in the International Mass Media that our journey had started. That was the reason why our story gained such coverage.  After the initial enquiries were over, they sent us to New York City.  Even then we had no idea that we were being sent to a detention Camp…            

 part of the world famous for THE New York City. The fifth floor of the building that once stood at a corner of Brooklyn.  I don’t know how many floors there are.  All that I know is that I am in the fifth floor of the structure.  That’s all.  And, to me this fifth floor is, as far as America is concerned, another world.  Fashionable hair-dos and fragrant flowers”, but underneath it all lice, lice and more lice…   When were arrived at New York via a special bus, the happiness of staying in a world-famous hotel Hilton for two full days was still lingering in us. When we were in Sri Lanka itself we had heard a lot about this great gand city of Newyork and about its International significance The very thought of going to such an illustrious city (New York) filled us with happiness and various dreams and future plans. Not just that day but even today there is one question that keeps troubling my mind. Why did they send us who were caught in Boston, to New York? In Boston the Tami Forums and Organizations were quite influential. When that being the case,if they were to keep us there that could bring some headache to the American Government, politically, so the American government would have thought.. I find this alone as the possible reason for their move.

 Our travel by bus from Boston to New York proved to be a pleasant one. For the first time in our lives we were journeying on the Expressway.  We came across different kinds of trucks that made us view them with immense awe.  Those trucks connected trailers together.  Throughout the whole trip, the foremost thought in my mind was, “Thank God we have overcome the hurdles!”  A great sense of relief came to us.  We were all floating in a blissful state of mind. 

            I was full of nostalgic memories about my home.  I should work hard to find solutions for all the problems of our household at the earliest.  Should somehow bring brother also here and arrange for elder sister’s marriage with all pomp and show. Only after finishing all these chores should I slowly turn my attention towards Kavsalya’s condition. Memories of Kavsalaya pproved a soothing balm to my heart. I have explained everything to  her umpteen number of times. I had talked to her at great length regarding my duties and responsibilities. But, she remains firm in her decision that she would marry me, and me alone and said that she was prepared to wait for me.  What am I to do in a situation like this?  If she is prepared to wait, I have no alternative but to accept her as my life-partner! Even when we arrived in New York, we had no clue as to what would befall us.  

            It was only when our bus was driving through a poverty-stricken area of New York that a nagging sensation came to prevail upon us. Though we couldn’t comprehend anything when our bus sped past an area where black children were playing around in dirty, unhealthy atmosphere, with old, time-worn buildings we couldn’t help feeling that somewhere, something had gone wrong. Finally, our bus came to a halt in front of an  old structure.  We were asked to get off with our luggage. Even then we were at a loss to assess the exact situation. It was only when we reached the fifth floor we began to get an inclination of what was to follow.the place where we arrived at, in the fifth floor was the reception hall. A man having the appearance of a prison-guard, who was intently looking into the files was sitting there. The Boston immigration officer left us in his custody’ and wishing him ‘good-luck’ went away. It was then that we became painfully aware of our fate. We could understand that we were  brought to some sort of a a prison. 

            The eyes on the other side of the iron-bars belonging to men wearing prison uniforms who were watching us so eagerly dawned on us the much needed realization.      Security guards were seen here and there. Our belongings were taken away from us. We were relieved of what little money we had in our possession. We were told that at the time of our leaving that place it would be returned to us.As in Logan Airport, here too  The preliminary tests were conducted. Our fingerprints were collected. At last, when all the formalities were over, we were given prison-wear.  “This is exactly what one can call a typical case of ‘from the frying pan into the fire,’” Rajasundaram observed. “Just like the elephants feet crushing the man fallen off the palm-tree” – Sivakumar groaned in fatigue and despair. “Leaving our problem-ridden soil to find some way out, alas, if only we had some idea as to what would befall us here, that we would be caught thus, we could have stayed back and suffer death in our homeland itself”, murmured Ravichandran. Arul Raja remained silent. “Let us see what happens”, said I. 

         Behind us the prison doors were closed. The black security officials looking like dreadful wrestlers were seen here and there. The corridor connecting the hall of the detention Camp on the fifth floor looked like a hall in its own way.There stood a recreation hall opposite each dorm. In that recreation-hall, there was a TV in one corner,  a vending machine, a table to play table-tennis and a telephone were there. In the dorms bunk-beds were arranged one above the other in the manner of a ship or hostel. The corridors connecting the halls had strong iron doors with security personnels. 

            Along with the corridor that connected both the corridors bathrooms and lavatories were found.  Apart from these, there was also a dining hall and a separate wing for doing physical exercises and yogasanas. In times of need medical facilities were also offered. The doctor’s cabin was in the front portion of the detention Camp, before the reception. In our wing, all the screening prisoners were men.  Women were in a different wing.  While waiting for food, men would vie with each other  for a chance to see the women on the other side. And, for this reason they would also vie with each other to do kitchen-duty.      For doing work in the kitchen the person concerned would be given one dollar per day as salary. 

In the detention Camp where we were kept, there were about two hundred men.  Most of them belonged to Africa and South America.  If we take the countries, those of Afghanistan outnumbered all the others. In the case of Sri Lanka ,we five were the only ones. There were only two from India and Bangladesh.  There were also men from Middle American countries  such as El Salvador, Guatemala, etc. There were prisoners of all sorts such as those caught at the airport for want of proper visas and related documents, those caught and asked for refugee status (like us) and some others who were indulging in illegal activities and so arrested, those dealing with drugs and were awaiting the day of their deportation. Prisoners of all sorts. Of them the condition of the Afgans  proved highly pitiable.   

            Most of the prisoners there had been languishing there for more than two years. And, most of them were caught for want of proper visa and other documents and had asked to be treated as refugees. The way they were existing there, separated from their near and dear ones and with their hopes crushed and feelings assaulted, the way those people were languishing there revealed to me the other, dark side of this world’s Super Power which was all illumination outside,  wearing the mask of a pleasant countenance.  As far as the Americans, they are intelligent and hardworking. They have so much of grit and deternmination and are pioneers and role-models in so many fields. But, it is in this very same country  that there are innumerable murderers, lterrible psychopaths, the likes of whom you could not find anywhere else in the world. 

            With their basic rights denied, the refugees are languishing and rotting in the detention Camps.  Such woeful and gruesome situations prevailing in a land that stand at the top of the world and advocate Freedom, Equality and Fraternity and whatnot deserves a thorough study indeed.  As soon as we reached the hall that was our assigned space, those who were already there came to surround us. Of them, Abdhulla of Afghanistan, Daniel of El Salvador, and Der of Guatemala deserve special mention.  Those three asked about us, the countries we came from and what made us land there with full of concern and brotherly feelings. As we had gone there at a time when the entire world was aware of the burning problem of Sri Lanka, the prisoners were already familiar with our country.   They listened to our story and expressed sympathy in all sincerity and compassion.   

            “These Americans are always like this. Take any country and there will be Americans creating problems,”– so observed Daniel.  Daniel seemed to be around eighteen.  His face had not lost boyish features as yet. He continued, “It is these Americans that are behind all the problems of our land. Somehow managing to save our skin if we come here, they treat us so brutally, keeping us in cages as animals and torture us psychologically.” 

            “How long have you been here Daniel?”  To this query of mine, not Daniel but on his behalf Abdhulla of Afghanistan answered.  His answer upset not just me but the whole lot of us. 

            “Myself and some others from my land have been here for the last two years.  Although, it must have been at least a year since Daniel arrived.” 

            “What are these Americans doing for two years?”  Growing apprehensive, Rajasundaram turned a little impatient. “According to their laws, if someone is caught while trying to get into the land without proper documents, they must languish in jail until the cases are taken up and judgement is given!  It would take years!”  Thus, conversing with us for a while, being supportive they left to attend to their daily chores. We stayed back  and talked this and that for some more time.  Among all of us it was Raasundaram who looked terribly upset. 

            “Damn me for spending so much to suffer this fate – years of caged life!  I’ve promised my wife and children that after coming to Canada, I’d call them soon after to join me here…” 

            “Brother, what is the use of losing heart?  Let’s sit and think of how we can get away from here,” as Sivakumar uttered these words, Rajasundaram intervened. 

            “Are you suggesting jailbreak?” 

            “No, no.  I don’t mean that.  I just said that we should somehow leave this place.”   

            “If we can talk with the Boston Tamil Association, we can somehow find supporters,” I said.   

            “But how to get access of them?” asked Arulraja.  Only then we became aware of the fact that we possessed neither their address nor their telephone number.  

            Ravindran said, “Brother, people whom I know are living in New York.  We can get the information from them!” 

            After conversing thus for a while we retired for the day. .  Arulraja and myself shared a bunk bed with he lying on the upper birth.   A month had sped off since our arrival. In the mean while, life at the camp had become somewhat familiar to us. 

            Morning, afternoon, and evening.  Three meals a day with the last one in the evening itself. We who were used to having food in the night would be feeling hungry throughout the night. Every time we paid a visit to the dining hall, women prisoners from the respective halls would come in first, have their food and then leave.  Then our cages would be opened, and we’d be temporarily let loose.   

            As for the food, though we were not accustomed to it, they did give nutritious food and that too in sufficient quantity. In the mornings, we were provided with a cup of juice, a cup of coffee, a fruit, milk, cereal,apart from these, scrambled eggs or pancake with syrup.  In the afternoon, rice a smaller-than-used-to portion of rice, spaghetti, meat balls, a juice, fruit, and coffee.  Even though being provided with the snacks during mealtime, we were not allowed to save them to take back to our dorms.  Security guards would jump at you if caught with these snacks and snatch them away. Hunger would be killing us. Somehow we would manage to stealthily take fruits with us. Another important thing. Often the guards would order us to stop moving from wherever we were and begin to count our heads. Sometimes, one or two heads would be missing. When that happens they would start all over again and again. 

            Initially, in the first two months were unbearable. Peeping through the windows and seeing those aeroplanes drawing lines in the space, flying so freely, seeing those poor, black children playing so happily, the thought of our imprisoned state of existence would weigh on us all too heavily and we would feel suffocated. As someone possessed by evil spirits we five would be lying in our respective cots. 

            Memories of motherland would flood us like a deadly deluge. Thoughts of Kausalya would begin to flutter their wings. Scenes of those horrible riots and violence would come again before my very eyes.  So many dreams, plans and responsibilities we had. Who would have thought we would be caged in this dark side of America which is all illumination on the surface level?  Why can’t they understand our traumas and predicaments? Why can’t they empathise with us?  How horribly the lives of these youngsters from Afganisthan, El Salvador etc., being wasted away thus! They keep in one and the same place those indulged in criminal acts and those who have run away from their homeland unable to bear the atrocities there. Treating them like murderers and anti-social elements. Bent on subjecting helpless refugees who come leaving behind their loved ones, belongings, and their identities thanks to the mindless riots occurring in their own soil, to further humiliation and suffering…  As for us, we were still  under the grip of the gruesome riot, psychologically.  

             But, before we had time to come out of it the events that had taken place in our lives all too quickly…I still remember vividly… I was thena fourth standard student. An essay competition was held and we were asked to write on the theme “The Country I Love.”  I chose America and listed several reasons for my choice.  I wrote that America was a great land of Democracy where even a mere wood-cutter who was Abraham Lincoln could rise to the topmost position of American Presidentship.  America was  a land where human rights were respected and revered. Their very statue upholding Freedom bore testimony to this… so I had written. But, if someone asked me today which country I’d choose, for sure I would not choose  America. Never at all. For, let them not embrace with wide-opened hands, all those who come as refugees.  Let them not shower on them love and compassion.  But, they could at least refrain themselves from subjecting them to still worse psychological harassment, can’t they..?At the same time, America has a strange, unique  law as regards those who illegally enter into the country.  Laws are for preserving and upholding Justice.  What this particular law upholds, god only knows…  But it was only accidently that we came upon that law. That too, after spending three long months in the screening-camp.  I wonder what would have befallen us if we had not by chance learnt the existence of such a legal provision. 

            It can also be said that life in the detention Campshelped us realize the essentially dependent nature of our Universe.  Time which flew when we were out and free, struck work and stayed still all too stubbornly. The future looked bleak and uncertain. With no answer nor solution coming our way, we felt we were living in a no man’s land that hung in suspension. Every now and then, despair and helplessness would overpower us. Feeling spent-out, we’d be lying in our cots doing nothing.  However, at the back of our mind it was clear to us that at no cost we should lose hope. 

            Life at the Detention Camp had caused in us several changes. Four-letter words were coming out of Sivakumar’s mouth much too often. When all the inmates went to sleep, Ravichandran would emit a shrill whistle.  Daniel would do the same as a kind of response. All the others would follow suit. Eventually the security-guards would come there and put an end to it. Ravichadran’s knowledge of English was very poor.Taking all this into account, that day all of us  discussed our situation threadbare. As a result of our discussion that day on how we could spend our time usefully and also on what could be our future plans we resolved to do the following: 

             We unanimously decided that as we had already applied for Refugee status and also as the Boston Tamil Association had already made its presence in our issue,` whatever we propose to do  we should do it in consultation with them and also through them… and if at all there could be ways and means of escape we should leave it in their hands to pursue them.  Furthermore, it was also decided that we should stop using vulgar language  and should abstain from making noise in the night.  We also decided that Rajasundram should teach English to Ravichandran.  Event though we had our discussion in  right earnest, we couldn’t help smiling at the thought of those resolutions.  Our discussion that day, and the days that followed immediately, succeeded in instilling some rays of hope in us. The way we talked to each other, sharing our sorrows and hopes had somewhat lessened the burden that was weighing heavily on us.

            As for myself, I decided not to let unwanted thoughts assail my heart. I started spending more time watching TV in the mornings.  I also played table tennis with Daniel and Richard and played chess with Sivakumar and Ravichandran.  As far as the game of chess is concerned, I owe it to the Spanish security officers.  These officers would play chess between themselves and when I asked the Spanish official to get me one he obliged readily and brought me a chess board and coins, without a scowl. Apart from this, I also started doing physical exercises whenever I got the time.   

            As for T.V programmes, I loved watching cartoons and the news in the morning hours. I soon discovered that most of my inmates had a special liking for viewing Cartoons. They mostly liked  the cartoons  Pink Panther and Tom and Jerry. We were also able to get edible items and hot and cool drinks from the ‘vending machine’ that was kept inside our camp.  If we would request the respective officers in advance, giving five dollars or 10 dollars from our money they would give us coins equivalent to the amount given by us with the help of which we could get things from the vending machine. 

            Meanwhile, I had become close with Daniel, Abdhulla and Richard.  Richard was  a uniue personality. He always had his Bible with him and he would always be praying.  I never saw him lose his cool.  His life was very simple and straight with no riddles and mysteries. He would leave everything in the hands of God.  He never expressed any hate for the Americans.  When I asked him if he ever possessed ill feelings towards the Americans, he wore a disarming smile and said, “Not at all.  These people have given me food and shelter, and for this I am thankful.  I also pray to God.”  He was one who acknowledged God and none else. Sometimes I used to think that his too deep a faith in god was silly and superstitious. Exept God, he would never believe anything , even the Modern Science. And, he would never believe that the Earth is round in shape. In a way I envied him. How nice it would be if I were to be like him, I used to long… ‘then there would be no problem at all!’ 

            Daniel was the exact opposite of Richard.  His god was Se Guevera. Whenever he had the time, he would be reading a book on guerrilla warfare. His entire family had become victims of the terrorist activities of Salvador State troops. His elder brother was a firm supporter of guerrilla.  The state troops had shot him dead.  Hence it was natural for Daniel to be angry and boiling.   

           The prison authorities who wanted to bring some hapiness in this life of ours told us one day that once in a week, if we wanted, we could play inside the play ground which had thorny fence on all the four sides. The play ground was part of our Detention Camp building. Longing to have a glimpse of the outer world, we agreed to it whole-heartedly. 

The very ritual of our being taken to that playground provided great amusement.  They would handcuff us in pairs and with many guards in front and also at the back of us they would take us there. There, they would offer us a ball. When we would be happily playing, kicking the ball with our feet or throwing it at one another, catching it and clapping our hands in excitement the guards would suddenly intervene and handcuff us once again and lead us back to our place. The way they cherished and upheld the spirit of freedom and the rights of the individuals in so strange a fashion used to amuse us at times and it also angered us a lot.   

            The way they were treating us as some kind of “dreaded international terrorists” made us wonder whether they really feared us.  Abdulla’s reply dispelled our  suspicion to some extent.  “Handcuffing us and keeping us in prison are for the sole purpose of weakening us psychologically.  “Unable to bear this, some would voluntary come forward and request to be deported. Mohammed, who came from my country, did exactly that. But no one knows what his condition is today?”.  At the same time, regarding Afghanistan, America is lending help to Mujahidheen Guerrilla Force opposing the Soviet-friendly Government.. But, it turns a blind eye to the plights of people like Abdulla who come here seeking solace, driven by the unbearable condition of that land. 

Can it be because they suspect that in the name of refugees Afghan spies are gaining entry?  Though we resolved to ourselves that we would treat each day as a new one and focus on the silver lining and forgetting our caged conditions, it was not easy to conduct ourselves so.  For, how long one could go on sitting in front of the idiot-box (or the television as you may call it)?  How long one could go on like this, playing table-tennis? Doing physical exercises? Prison is prison, with your freedom totally curbed..The burden of Life would weigh us down every now and then.  During those moments, we’d be lying down in our beds feeling all too gloomy and extremely fatigued. 

 In the detention Camp, we had one great advantage which we could never hope to have in the world out there.  Here, we were able to  contact anybody in any nook and corner of the world.  Of course, it was only through illegal means. The credit card numbers for the telephones of big companies, rich people etc., were somehow reaching the hands of those in the detention Camp on a regular basis. How they managed that,  God alone knows.  That there was the girl friend of a West-Indian working as a Telephone Operator and that they managed to get those numbers with the help of that girl – so they told.  I don’t really know. 

But, the instruments in some remote parts of the world bearing these numbers that would come to our hands would somehow become dead shortly afterwards. And, in their place new numbers would have come. True to the golden saying ‘ pazhaiyana kazhidhalum pudhiyana pugudhalum, losing the old numbers and getting some new numbers we would keep alive our telephonic conversations, hoping against hope. During this time we could also talk with people in Jaffna. There was a telephone in Ravichandran’s household. On one or two occasions we even listened to “Pongum Punal’ which used to flow at 7 o’ clock every morning. Some men in the camp would be chit-chatting  throughout the day. The unlawfulness of this act couldn’t hold good before the psychological pain and anguish of our prison-lives. 

            The concern and empathy with which the Tamil Association took up our matter initially, withered away a little, as days passed.  Some of the associates had come to the city of Newyork but they never had the time to pay us even a brief visit.  At the same time there were one or two good souls too. 

            One day, the prison officials announced us that we had a visitor. The news made us wonder.  Visitorsfor us?  Who could that be?  We were splitting our heads trying hard  to find out the answer. A man of short stature with a soft, kind voice.  It was “Father Abraham” hailing from Tamilnadu who is now working in a Church in New York.  He had learnt about us through newspapers.  He benevolently brought us some magazines and newspapers to read.  In the detention Camp, only two of us were allowed to come simultaneously to see the visitor(s).  There was a wire partition separating us from visitors.  Rajasundharam and myself went to meet the visitor.  At that point of time when we were feeling so distressed and greatly unsettled by the bitter taste of prison life, meeting him provided great solace to our  battered souls.  “Is there anything I can do? If there is, please let me know”, said Father Abraham.  As for us, our foremost concern was to find a way to get out of that hideous place at the earliest.  

            Rajasundhran who was terribly shaken responded at once: “Father, I have left behind my wife and children in our motherland.  These goddamned people give us the impression that we are going to live here forever!  If you can get us out of this hell we would be extremely grateful.”

            In the familiar voice that melts away all worries and brings in hope, Father Abraham said, “Don’t worry.  I know a lawyer who is working in a Christian Society.  I will inquire there.  Please do give me a ring for anything you wish to talk to me about.  I will do all that I can.”  Truly, our meeting with Father Abraham revived our dead hopes. It was like finding something to hold on to, when one is drowning in the sea. When we came back to our cots after meeting Father Abraham Sivakumar and Arul Raja came to us and urged us to tell each and every syllable of our conversation with Father Abraham and put forth numerous questions to us.

            “See Elango.  Some unkown Father who doesn’t even belong to our nation but one born in India has read the papers and came here to console us.  But, our people who have heard of our problems have not even cared to call us over the phone to find out how things are,” Sivakumar’s voice was full of anger and weariness. 

            “All these Tamil Association people have become established citizens of this land. But, we are unwanted guests of this country. So, they might have thought ‘ why invite trouble’ and preferred to stay away” – Arulraja observed.  What he said sounded  true to all of us. Seen in this context we could realize the significance of Father Abraham’s visit.  As for him, he need not have paid attention to our affairs. But the fact that he did and came all the way to inquire after our well-being moved us a lot. 

            After that our attention was drawn to the magazines and papers that Father Abraham  had brought us.  The journals were from various countries and they had published news about us. Boston Globe, Ceylon Daily News, Asian Monitor, Gulf Times of the Middle East, etc.  Of all the Dailies, the Gulf Times made us laugh. There was a news-item which reported that an Officer of the American Government expressed hope that a solution to our issue would be found in two week’s time.said that a solution would be arrived in two weeks time. In that an authority of Boston Immigration Department by name Thimothy Veelan had said that he had urged the Central Government to speeden up our case and that a solution would be arrived at in two weeks’ time. In ‘Daily News’ there was a report on our transfer from Boston to Brooklyn Detention Camp and that the Tamil Association people had employed a lawyer to fight our case in the  American Court of Law. It still remains a mystery as to why the Tamil Association which entered the scene in such a big way, retreated later on.  

            Two days after Father Abraham’s visit two more unexpected visitors came to see us. They were Oliver and Ingrid of the Spartacist party. As for the Spartacist party-folks, they were Marxists who followed Trotsky.  In their journal, an article was published on the plights of Tamils.  In that it was emphasized that the Sinhalese labourers should join hands and fight against the Pro-American Government of J.R.  Taking us to be some revolutionary warriors, they repeated time and again that the solution to all our problems lay in the united struggle of the Sinhalese-Tamil labourers.  They expressed discontent and worried over the treatment meted out to us at the hands of the American Government.  Rajasundharam and Sivakumar didn’t approve of them. “They are all C.I.A men.  They come here to ‘feel our pulse.’ –   When Rajasundhram commented thus, there was a note of caution in his voice. 

            Thus, our Detention Camp life continued with visits from the unexpected and no-visits from the expected. During the same time, there were several globally important affairs were also taking place. A Corean passenger plane that had gone beyond the Soviet border was gunned down by the Russian Force. This act had created a great uproar all over the world.  This incident helped to a great extent the spread of ill-feeling against Russia in many countriesAt this same time, in our home land, the incident where a Colombo-bound passenger bus was attacked and two Tamil youths were shot dead by the military men in Jaffna took place.   

            Our spirits and state of affairs that had turned a little better, thanks to those unexpected visits had once again returned to its usual gloom and despair, under the effect of prison life.  We became dead once again, so to say.  However, our association with Father Abraham and his words had helped us grow mentally stronger. Every now and then we would talk to him over the phone, taking turns and he would also talk to us irrespective of what time it was and whether he was busy or not, and he would always console us, instil hope in us and prove a great pillar of support. Having a few words with Father healed us a lot. Especially to Rajasundhram.  Poor man.  At this age, having to leave his beloved family behind,  in search of a new job and ending up in prison. .. Life at the Detention Camp had unsettled him to a great extent, we could see.. 

             Time went on, with new entrants coming in and some old ones going out. Some  were deported. Some were released on bail, but the way things were, it appeared to us that  we could not hope to leave the cell till the case was over. 

            Meanwhile, there was a bloom in Daniel’s life. He would also work in the kitchen every now and then. While he was doing his chores in the kitchen he had fallen in love with a female prisoner of his soil.  His boyishness was slowly bidding him goodbye.  Apart from this, another important incident took place. A Nigerian youth waiting for his day of extradition, suddenly started blabbering, as if in delirium, one night. Spending huge sum and landing in America with real great expectations, he had suffered a breakdown as a result of all his dreams going to the docks and to top it all  he was to be deported.Some said that he was possessed by some evil spirit. One of the Africans in our detention Camp was said to be an expert hand in driving away these evil spirits and he knew all the rituals required for this task, said the men at the camp. 

            Throughout the night the exorcist went on trying his might to save the felllow nigerian from the grip of some devil.  All of us were wide awake till dawn. The scene looked like  as if it was taken from one of those English movies that show the African life. Just like those exorcists whom we find in such movies this man was also uttering some words in African language and chasing away the evil spirit and we observed everything with wonder and awe! The Camp guards too behaved in a magnanimous manner in this issue, not at all interfering.

But, the very next day the young man had regained his normalcy.  There is an other important thing which needs to be told. During the nights, when those at the camp would retire for the day there would be a headcount. An officer slightly above the rank of the security officers would conduct it.  He was a black and his appearance resembled those stiff and strict German military officers of the English War Movies. Wearing spectacles and a cap, he would come with a  harsh look, with his hands folded at the back. The mere sight of him would make the prisonerssmile and laugh.. Confronted with so many conflicting thoughts and memories, fighting against them when atlast we we would come to lie on our beds our hearts would have turned light. We would be itching to indulge in some mischief. Placing the pillow on his bed and covering it with the bedsheet, Ravichandhran would be chatting with us. Daniel would also do the same thing.  The officer would conduct a headcount and count both of them, each twice.  As soon as he left our  room, we’d burst into laughter.  Hearing that he would come back immediately and scowl at us. But they would announce that the headcount was wrong.  Once again the officer would pay a visit to our hall.  In the meantime, Ravichandran would have gone to his cot and would be lying there as the very personification of innocence.

            Thus, our detention Camp life was not without interesting moments and incidents.  Life went on.  Father Abraham would often say, “Don’t worry over anything.”   Whenever we  gave him a call he would always say that.  Father was a kind soul.  He had a heart of pure gold, but we could see that even his hope was waning. And, the reality of the situation that we were in, had dawned on us too.  Still, deprived of freedom and living the life of caged-birds we longed for Father’s soothing words. Moreover, we didn’t want to lose hope. After all, our very existence relies on hope, isn’t it?  And, Vijayabaskaran’s visit changed our destiny. 

            I have never seen a moment when his face was not wearing a smile. He had learnt to overcome any kind of hurdle. He was the only son of Vinaasithambi who was one of the renowned merchants of Jaffna.  Just like us, he too was caught on his way to Canada.  I felt sad when I  saw him.  Two and a half months had passed since our arrival there.  Henceforth, he would also be one among us.  We didn’t want to cause confusion and apprehension in his heart by telling him our thoughts.  Many of his relatives were actually in New York itself  Contacting them soon he wasted no time in employing a lawyer for himself.  Let him do what he can, we thought.  The place is an iron-prison. Escaping from it would never be an easy task. Time would make him realize all this and more.  Already we had tried and became sick and tired of it all. So we knew, that he too would realize it all in due course. 

            Meanwhile, as he had arrived straight from Sri Lanka, we asked him about the prevailing conditions and the state of affairs of our soil.  When he described in detail the State sponsored atrocities heaped on hapless Tamils his voice grew intense with hatred and anger.  Vijayabaskaran said, “School Children from each locality are joining various Movements..hereafter, things will not be the same.”  Hearing the struggles and travails  of our people, we felt guilty.  Haven’t we fled our country in sheer cowardice…?  Sivakumar’s words expressed exactly this:  “Once we go outside we should strive to turn the people of foreign lands against the atrocities of the Sri Lankan government.” 

            The tone of his voice implied that we should at least do something that would be possible for us.  One week sped by.  It was then that the miracle took place.  That day Vijayabaskaran’s face had an extra-special glow and his smile spread from ear-to-ear.  We all became curious to find out what had caused this change in disposition.  He excitedly said, “My lawyer said I can get out on bail for two thousand dollars.  My uncle is taking me tomorrow.  Tomorrow or the day after I can go, it seems.” We felt happy for him but also sad for our own selves. We too yearned to go. And, along with it a new hope came to be. ‘If Vijayabaskaran can get bail why can’t we?’ From the moment the news reached Rajasundhram, he began to feel restive. 

            “Something has gone wrong in our case.  For what it is worth, let’s speak to his lawyer through Baskaran and try to find out ” . We all agreed to this. Maybe there could be some difference, from the legal point of view, between our situation and that of Vijayabaskaran’s.  So, there would be some provision with the help of which we could also get bail. If that be the cae, then it would be better to have Vijayabaskaran’s lawyer to fight our case too. We decided to approach him through vijayabaskaran. Vijayabaskaran spoke of us to his lawyer through his uncle.  He also told him of our decision to have him as our lawyer.  We gave him the number of our Boston lawyer.  That night itslef a solution was found.   

            Vijayabaskaran’s uncle told everything to Father Abraham.  Father Abraham contacted us over the phone.  It was only through the call from the New York lawyer that our Boston lawyer could come to know of what went wrong in our case.  Immediately afterwards, the Boston lawyer contacted  the Immigration Authorities. As a result of these initiatives, it would be possible to get us bail in a week’s time.  This was the essence of Father Abraham’s call.  We can never describe in words the joy that the call gave us all.  We all felt as though we were flying up above, higher and higher!  It was all because of Vijayabaskaran.  If it weren’t for his arrival, we could never have come to know of this error in our case.  From the information that reached us through Vijayabaskaran’s lawyer and Father Abraham, we learnt of the rules and regulations of America regarding illegal immigrants.   

            If a person who came to this country through legal means were to stay on beyond  the expiry date of his or her visa, he or she then becomes an illegal immigrant.  If one enters illegally, then that person too is obviously an illegal immigrant. A person can be allowed to enter the country through legal means. Or, through illegal means too. Those mentioned above would come under the category of ‘ Allowed to enter the country illegally’. 

            In the same way, if someone with fake visas and documents is apprehended by the immigration officers at the airport or along the line of control such people couldn’t be allowed entry even illegally. But, those who come sailing in the sea, if they are apprehended before they could set foot on the land then they too are categorised as those not to be allowed inside the country even illegally. But, in case they who come through the sea are apprehended after entering the land then they fall under the category of immigrants allowed entry illegally.they too come under the category of illegal immigrants.As for those who have admitted into the country though illegally in case they are apprehended by the Immigration authorities they have the right to be released on bail. And, for those who are caught thus, documents for getting release on bail should be given to them within a stipulated period of time. But, in the case of those who were not allowed entry even illegally such persons cannot go on bail and they have to languish in prison till the case is over. 

If the case were to be dismissed, then the person would be deported straight from the Detention Camp. As for as we are concerned, we have been initially admitted into the country legally. In our tickets, “transit” visas were stamped in Boston.  While we were thus in America through legal means, we were forced to appeal for refugee status because  Delta Airlines’ refused us entry. After the expiry time of our transit visa we moved to the category of those ‘admitted illegally’.  It is here that the American immigration authorities have erred – they said.  They explained that they took us to be of that category of immigrants who are denied entry into the country even illegally.  This is were we nurture strong suspicion.  Did they really err?  Or, did they knowingly wronged us?  That is why they brought us to the detention Camp with the prospect of bail denied . 

We were given Charge-Sheets in which it was stated that as we had stayed in the country even after the expiry date of our transit visas we had committed offences under sections 241(a), 101(a), 15 of the Immigration act which warrant extradition.  For the offence that took place on the 23rd of August charge sheets were being given to us on the 23rd of November.  Even now, many things were left untold; conveniently hidden. Firstly, we were admitted into the country through proper legal means. Proper transit visas were awarded to us.  Due to Delta Airlines’ refusal to fly us even when we were staying there legally, we had applied for refugee status.  

            In truth, legally there is no difference at all between a person who entered here with a two-year visa and applying for refugee status after one year of his arrival and our case.  Will a person of the first case be arrested after two years because he has violate the law?  That doesn’t seem to happen.  Then, it was said that even after our transit visas expired, not seeking and acquiring permission from the Immigration authorities we continued to stay in the country.  But, didn’t we apply for refugee status within the stipulated time? And, we continued to stay only with their permission, or rather under their power and in their custody.  When this is the case, how can they say that we stayed  here without their permission and in violation of the law?

            To top it all of, another incident occurred.  From August 28th 1983 to November 13th of the same year, a basic right guaranteed in the Constitution of America had been denied to us.  They were giving us the charge sheet alleging us to be offenders of law after a gap of over two months.  Who is responsible for that period of time we lost forever?  Who is responsible for all the psychological traumas that we had to endure then? All this happened in a land where the Statue of Liberty stands in all glory and splendour.  In the very city of New York we were deprived of our basic human rights.  What a shameful irony!  At last, our detention Camp life came to an end.  For about three months, we lost our rights.  These experiences would haunt our memories forever.  Though, the opportunity of knowing and befriending people from various parts of the world was definitely enriching.  The very thought of leaving such good souls like Daniel, Richard, Romeo, and Abdhulla made us feel terribly sad. We knew that they felt glad to know we’d be released, but we knew that they were also feeling sad, feeling apprehensive about their future.  As for them, they were in the category of those who had been admitted illegally.  Till the end of their case, they would be in a ‘hanging suspended in mid-sky’ state.  In case the verdict would go in their favour, they’d be admitted into the country with rights.  If not, they might be expelled from the country.  Till that fateful day, they would remain in this prison known as the Detention Camp on the fifth floor, mechanically roaming around with hearts heavy with dreams and aspirations. What else they can do? 


            Following the July riots of 1983 when I left for Canada, there were about 19 other Tamilians travelling along with me in the same plane.  It was planned that we were to board on Delta Airlines in Boston.  At the time of our journey, we belonged to another Common Wealth Country, so we didn’t require a visa.  However, Delta Airlines refused to take us to Montreal and here the problem began.  The nineteen of us were forced to seek political asylum in America.  After this, the American government transfered us to the Brooklyn detention Camp.  For over two months, we were made to remain there in an imprisoned state. This novella which has taken shape as a result of our experiences there is in fact a mixture of 95% real incidents and a mere 5% of imaginary things which of course do not distort nor intend to distort the real incidents or their impact in any way.  The experiences of the nineteen of us have been converted into the experiences of five here.  For this purpose, fictitious names have been given.  Apart from this, all that is narrated and described here as the rules, routines and incidents of the Detention Camp are 100% true.  What positive changes have come to be in the Laws of America as regards the refugees, if at all there is any, is not known exactly. Lots of Tamil people keep coming over, through America.  At the same time, according to a news item that appeared in TamilOsai dated 7/1/93, one Sivagurunathan Sivasenthilnathan hailing from Alavetti was detained in America for more than six months and then extradited on 31/12/92 and was arrested in Kattu Nayakka. Even now, there are lots of people from various parts of the world detained and languishing in the numerous detention Camps of America.  Their condition is miserable.  This is why I dedicate this short novel of mine to all those suffering brethren.

My daughter’s comments:

I like your story!  It’s really amazing to read your story and the way you write is awesome!  I like the concept of the story and the way you have turned your experience into an intriguing story.  This story has really opened my eyes about how these things were treated and I’m sure it opened others’ eyes as well.  I’m proud to call you my father!

nallur.jpgNallur Rajadhani: City Layout!
Written By: V.N.Giritharan
Translation: Latha Ramakrishnan
Publisher: Sneha Pathippagam, Madras

“Giritharan has the principal qualities required of a historical researcher, sincerity and patience, in full. He takes into consideration even those historical evidences which have no basis and which are quite a lot. And he sets out to analyse them extensively and establish how correct or incorrect they are. This maturity of mind which is required foremost of a historian is inherent in this young author and this fact is enough to throw light on his vast knowledge and deep insight. And, his analytical bent of mind and viewpoint are further enhanced by his distinct style of writing which is at once simple and rich. Till date I have not met Giritharan. Only through his writing I have come to know him as an intelligent writer who has a seeking for more and more knowledge and wisdom who writes for a case and with a purpose. This analytical work of his reveals to us another aspect of his self. or rather, another facet of his self. And indeed, with pride and precision.”-S.Yoganathan-

Preface:An Exemplary Attempt By: S. Yoganathan
Foreword:Nallur Rajadhani City Layout
Chapter One:Nallur and The City Of Singai
Chapter Two:Nallur and Jaffna
Chapter Three :Nallur Rajadhani Historical Facts
Chapter Four:Nallur Kandaswami Temple
Chapter Five:Nallur Fort and its Surrounding Walls.
Chapter Six:Field Research-Work Information
Capter Seven:Fort Entrance, Fort Base and VeijiluganthaPillaiyar
Chapter Eight:Ancient Books and Hindu Architecture
Chapter Nine:Hindu City Layout and the Caste
Chapter Ten:South Indian Temple Cities
Chapter Eleven:Nallur Rjadhani and Nallur City Layout

Forward: Nallurt Rajadhani City Layout !

None seems to have evinced any interest so far in the ancient city layout of Srilankan Tamil. It is unfortunate that those who are engaged in the research and investigation work about the historical facts pertaining to the kings and kingdoms have turned a blind eye to the architectural style and expertise of Tamil. Because of this indifference and black-out when research work about citieslike Anuradhapuram, Yaappahuva that were capitals hundreds of years prior to the time when Nallur was Rajdhani, or,were to be, it proves a herculean task together information about Nallur Rajdhani city layout. In such a situation I have undertaken the research work on Nallur city layout to the best of my ability. My desire to study the city layout of Nallur Rajdhani was not something accidental. In my young age when I would be reading the novels of Kalki, Jagasirpian and such others I used to always wonder why it always remained a rarity to come across historical evidences about Nallur which was as famous a city as Tanjore, Madurai and Kanchipuram. When I grew in age and knowledge I could realize that the foreign rule and our people’s bent of mind which spends its time and energy in singing the past glory but remains indifferent to the need for preserving our rare historical symbols and monuments are reasons for this blackout.

As proofs for the disinterestedness of our people we can cite the following. At the initial stage of this century Swami Gnanaprakasar had written a brief essay on Kopai fort. But today see the condition of the place and space where the fort was said to be once? When I was studying architecture in Moratuwa University in such a dismal atmosphere the wish to do research on Nallur City layout was renewed by several factors listed below. Sinhalese professor Nimal De Silva who was teaching us a lesson in connection with traditional architectural style briefed us about the investigation and research- work on the City layout of ancient Anuradhapuram and it was then that the wish to study the Nallur Rajdhani city layout sprang in me. When my friend and my senior by one year, Thanapalasingam told me that once he had intended to study about Nallur but then abandoned the idea as something impossible, my interest in the City of Nallur grew further. Right from my childhood it had been my nature to undertake those attempts that others claimed ‘not possible’. This resulted in my choosing ‘Nallur Rajdhani’ City layout as the topic for thesis work to be and undertaken for the study of ‘The history of Architecture’ From that day onwards, till date, whenever I get the opportunity I make it a point to mention without fail about the Nallur city layout. Several articles on Nallur City were published in the weekly supplement of Elanadu which was being brought out from Ceylon and which encouraged me a lot in the literary field.

A write-up on Kopai fort appeared in VeEra Kesari. In recent times I am writing about Nallur in Thayagam Magazine too. It is my wish that as like Nallur Rajdhani the layouts of Singainager (Vallipuram), Kandharodai and such other cities too should be studied. I fully agree with the claim that Vallipuram and Singai Nagar are one and the same. The ancient symbols that can be seen on the sand banks of that region and the coinage ‘Puram’ in Vallipuram are the principal reasons for this conclusion of mine.In Tamilnadu we can come across a lot of cities that have this Suffix ‘Puram’ in their names such as the capitals of Chola empire ‘Jayankonda Cholapuram’, ‘Ulagamahadevipuram’ and also the cities Kanchipuram, Nandhipuram which were famous in Pallava period.) As Vallipuram too ends with ‘Puram’ in the same way as Maavittapuram, undoubtedly it would’ve also been a city having royal and religious significance. (The name Nallur too is of this nature. In Tamil Nadu we an come across a lot of royally and religiously significant places having names ending with the word ‘Nallur’). Persons like Dr.C.K..Sitrambalam are of the opinion that Nallur is also the residue of Cholas. The names of places such as Chembian Patru, Nallur, Vallavar Kone Pallam in Maavittapuram, Gangaikondan in Navindil are residues o Cholas here. (Sindhanai, July 84). Not only in the northern region but even in the east there are very many places and aspects that call for extensive study and research work. And, I sincerely wish that investigation is undertaken about these too. And I firmly hope that my wish would be realized one day or other.

Chapter 1: Nallur And The City of Singai!

We can name the City of Singai and Nallur as those which had the honour of being the capital during the reign of Aryan emperors. When ‘Naga Arasargal’ (Naga Kings) were ruling, Kandharodai which was called ‘Kadhiramalai’, was enjoying the Rajdhani status. Those who rose up to that status afterwards ere these cities mentioned above- The cities of Singai and Nallur. It is evident that regarding these cities some confusion is prevailing amidst the historical researchers.One set of them are of the opinion that both those places are one and the same. But, the other set believe that both those two cities were separate and both of them enjoyed the status of Rajdhanis in two different period of time. As per Dr.C.K.Sitrambalam, Nallur and the City of Singai are but one and the same. ‘Generally, it can be said that Nallur was also called the City of Singai ‘(Article – Ceylon Kingdom – Eela Murasu,Canada, 25.2.94). From the proof provided by fr.Queroz , a note is there speaking of a well-fortified place named Chunguinayanar, that is Singai City, on the way from the shore to Nallur. And, it is this place which is the Singai City or Nallur that appear in Tamil Books, Kottagama Tamil charter and the stone inscriptions of Tamilnadu (Eela Murasu 11.3.94). Kailaya Malai which was believed to have been written by one Muthukkavirasar by the end of the 16th Century, or in the beginning of the 17th century, tells us of the history of Singai Ariyan I making Nallur as the capital of his empire. According to Swami Gnanaprakasar, Mudaliar-Se.Rasanayagam, Dr. K.S.Natarasa and such others, Nallur and the city of Singai are two different cities. ‘Historians claim that in Ceylon the reign of Arya
Emperor had come into being in 13 A.D. And those kings of that Empire acquiring the titles Segarasasekaran, Pararasasekaran one after another, ruled the country from the City of Singai for a while, and afterwards from Nallur..’, (K.S.Natarasa’s Ceylon Tamil’s Literary Growth and Development. Page.6) ‘Unaware of Parakramabagu’s evil design Shenbagaperumal went to Jaffna and, as the old capital was destroyed, established a new city in Nallur in 1450 A.D. and with the Sinhalese title Srirangabodhi Bhuvanesubagu, ruled for Seventeen years…'(Mudaliar Rasanayaka’s ‘The History of Jaffna’, page 75). In the book ‘Yaazhpaana Vaibava Maalai ‘which was written on the basis of such works as Kailayamaalai and Vaiyapaadal, Mayilvaganappulavar himself says that Singaiaariyaarasan (The first aryan king) established the capital of his
kingdom in Nallur itself. Of these two different view points prevailing about Nallur and Singainagar the contention of such people as Swami. Gnanaprakasar, Mudaliar Se.Rasanayagam, and Ka.Se. Natarasa that Nallur and the City of Singai were two different cities has acceptability. And, for this the following reasons can be given.

1)In a stone-cutting that was found in a place called Kottagama in Kekalai the following is inscribed.(“kangganamver kanniyanaiyar kaatinar kamar valaip pongoli neerch singai nagarariyar” ) In this ‘Venba’ (a species of verse form), of the phrase that glorified as ‘pongoli neerch singai nagarariyar ‘ (‘ Ariyar of singai City of thundering towering water).

Se. Rasanayagam has this to say: ‘.. It is this Ukkirasingam who had paved the way for the enhancement of Singai Nagar as the Rajdhani for many Aryan emperors successively. As it is glorified as (@’pongoli neerch singai nagar’) , it becomes evident that Singai nagar was the ocean banks filled with the sound of waves. And the place so situated was established beyond doubt with the help of those very many buildings constructed in Aryan style of architecture which lie hidden under the sand along the seashore of the Temple of Vallipura and also those very many signs that were found in that area..’. (The History of Jaffna 235- 236) Swami Gnanaprakasar’s perception is also the same.

2)The well-known muslim traveller ‘Ibin Bathootha’, in his notes had called the Aryan king as the Sultan of Srilanka and had spoken of the king as having a naval force with a lot of ships. And the aryan kings who had strong naval force must have established their capital close to the port only. Seen in this light Vallipuram is a better port,stronger city than Nallur. Kailayamaalai calls Nallur as Nallaimoodhoor. This tells of the past glory and ancientness of Nallur. We can see that during the reign of first Rajendra Chola itself Nallur was a place of pilgrimage with temple. Dr. K. Indirabala had already under-taken various research works regarding the stone-cutting of Rajendra Chola the First of this Dr. Si.Su. Sitrambalam says the following: “In this stone-cutting ‘Santhan’ is shown as one who had given various charities. The animals that he had given away to the Hindu temple situated in Nallur are recorded in this”. (Sinthanai-Jaffna University Literarypublication Department of Arts and culture July 1984, page 121). And, it is doubtful whether Nallur which was already having past glory and name would have been called the city of Singai. Taking into account all these aspects and arguments the contention that Nallur and the city of Singai were two different places holds good. .

Chapter 2: Nallur And Jaffna!

 As like the confusion that is prevailing regarding Nallur and the City of Singai, confusion is prevailing regarding Jaffna and Nallur also. One set of people opine that ‘Yaappapattuna’ is the Sinhalese version of Nallur and the other group holds that Yaappapattuna is the Sinhalese version of Yaazhpaanam (Jaffna). Dr. C.K.Sitrambalam, Swami Gnaprakasar and such others are of the opinion that the term ‘Yaappapattuna’ refers to Nallur only. It can be said that ‘Yaazhpaanapatinam (Jaffna City)-that which the Sinhalese books call ‘Yaappapattuna’ referred to Nallur only.’ (Yaazhpana Rajjiyam, Dr. C.K. Sitrambalam, Eela Murasu, 25.2.94). Further, as per the claims of Swami Gnaparaksar, S.W. Kumaraswami and others also it was the name ‘Yaapane’ given to Nallur by the Sinhalese which later became ‘Yaazhpaanam’.

Gnaprakasa Swamigal and the author of ‘Idapeyar’ (Name of place) Sri S.W.Kumaraswami not only held that the tale of Yaazhpaadi was a fictitious one and that such stories were abundant in ‘Vaiyapaadal’ and ‘Dakshina Kailaaya purana’ but also claimed that the ‘Vaibavamaalai’ person had tied the Kavi Veeraragavan history on the head of Yaazhpaadi and that in reality there was no such person at all, that Yaazhpaanam was not given away as gift to anybody ,that the name Yaapane Yaappaapattuna was given by the Sinhalese to  the City of Nallur was later changed as Yaazhpanam and that our bards had metaphorized the tale of Yaazhpaanan (Yaazhpaanach Charitham P .253)

The contention of such people like Mudaliar Rasanayagam, Dr. K.S.Nataraja is exactly the opposite. They hold that it is the Tamil name ‘Yaazhpaanapattinam’ which has become ‘Yaazhppapattunae’ which is Sinhalese. “….. it is indeed a surprise how the Jaffna people had come across the name ‘Yaappapattunae’ which had appeared in a book which was written by a Sinhalese bard in Thangaalai and started using it in its modified form. Though there is harmony in meaning between the two terms Yaappapattuna and Nallur there was no need to give an already existing name to Nallur and so call it. Wonder why the Sinhalese who still retain those names that end with the term Nallur which the Tamils formerly suffixed to the various places in the country of Srilanka should have changed the name Nallur in Jaffna, and that too into a Sinhalese name. “And, one is more bewildered as to why the Tamils have failed to change the names of places and lands in Jaffna which have Sinhalese names into Tamil ones. Now, is ‘Pattuna’ of Sinhalese tongue? Even school kids would know that it is the term ‘Pattinam’. So, it becomes clear that ‘Yaazhpaanapattina’ was a Tamil name which the Sinhalese had distorted and called Yaappapattunae…” (Yaazhpaanach Charithram, P.254).

Of this issue Dr. K. S. Nataraja’s view point is also worthy of note. He has given a viable explanation regarding this matter.“.. The term ‘Yaappapattuna’ which was considered to be a Sinhalese term is actually a compund word with the term ‘Yappa and ‘Pattuna coming together. Pattuna in Tamil is the distorted form of Pattinam which refers to a coastal city or town. And, that term was used in the verse ‘Pattinppalai’ appearing in ‘Pathuppaatu’ which is one of the Tamil literary collections of the Sangam period. Therefore, there is absolutely no basis to claim that this is a Sinhalese word before Christ. …and the contention that the term Yaava has come to take the distorted form Yaapa is not acceptable. So, we cannot think that Yaapa is the Tamil version of Java. Further, it is not the Sinhalese vesion of Java too. For, there has never been the practice of calling Java as ‘Yaba’ in Sinhalese literature…. So, it is a fitting claim that the Sinhalese name Yaappapattuna was coined from the Tamil Yaazhappanap Patttinam…”

(Causes for the name ‘Yaazhpaanam’…..Dr. K.S.Nataraja, Thamizhosai, 11.11.93).In the above mentioned article K.S.Nataraja cites another reason too as a decisive proof for his claim. “Further, the practice of lifting the names of cities and towns from one tongue to another and the people of the receiving tongue using them as names for their place is not at all in vogue. Then we wouldn’t be able to say why the Nallur of Yaazhpaanam is called so and not as Yabane which is considered to be its Sinhalese version….. So, we should take the term Yapane as the distorted Sinhalese form of Tamil’s Yaazhpaanam” (Thamizhosai ,11.11.93).

Mayil Vahanap Pulavar’s ‘Yaazhpaana Vaibhavamaalai’ (edited by Mudaliar Kula Sabarathan) would explain clearly that a blind Yaazhpanan (a lutist) by name ‘Andhagag Kavi Veeraraghavan’ played on the flute and won many prizes and the name Yaazhpaanam resulted out of this episode.

“In those days, from the Chola Kindom a lutist by name Kavi Veeraraghavan who was blind on both the eyes sang a song in praise of alasingamagarasan who was ruling from Senkadaga Nagar, and going there the lutists sang the song playing on his lute. The song made the king so happy that he gifted this country called ‘Manatridal’ which is in the northern side o Srilanka, to the lutist. And, the lutist, ie. Yaazhpaanan in Tamil named it as ‘Yaazhpanam…”(Yaaghpaana Vaibhavamalai, page 25)

And that which was called as Senkkadaganagar by Mayivalaganap pulavar referred to the city of Singai, holds Mudaliar Rasanayagam. “..The name Singainagar must have been changed either by Mayilvahanap Pulavar or someone who wrote after him, as Senkadaga Nagar, in Vaibavamaalai. During the rule of Ukkirasingan a city called Senkadaga Nagar was something never even dreamed of….” (Yaazhpaana Charithram- (The History o Jaffna) – Page 29).

“..As all the books written during the rules of the kings of Jaffna (Yaazhpaanatharasar) who came afterwards state that those kings had ruled from Singai Nagar it would be fitting to say that Ukkirasingan had shifted his Rajdhani to the City of Singai (Singai Nagar). And the name Singainagar alone must have become SenkadagoNagar afterwards…” (Yaazhpaana Charithram. Page 234).

As per the contention of A.Muthuthambi Pillai who has given another book titled ‘Yaazhpana Charithram’, Yaazhpaanam was the piece of land gifted away to a blind lutist by the kind called Aelaelasing who belonged to the 2nd Century B.C. For this claim of his he cites the following verse as proof:(“narai kottilankantru, nalvalanadu nayanthalippan…”).

‘-From the style of versification which is based on the Yaapu mode, it becomes clear that it belonged to the period after 3rd Century A-D’, holds K.S.Nataraja. ‘Vayapaadal’ would say that it was a lutist palying it for Vibeedanan who developed the highlands on the northern side of Srilanka and turned them rich and fertile. M.K. Anthonysil has also written a good write up on this issue in which he would say that the place in which one of the three sects of Paanas, the Yaazhpaanas lived came to be known as Yaazhpaanam.

“One of the old castes among tamils, the Paanaas ( )were of three catagories. One of the three was Yaazhpaanaas. The ancient instruments of Tamils were three. Yaazh(Lute), Kuzhal (Flute) and muzhavu(kind of drum). Of these those who played on yaazh were called yaazhpaanaas. in course of time this became a caste name. Therefore Yaazhpaanar is a caste name…. And, of these people who belonged to the yaazhpaanaa caste mentioned and referred to in our great Tamil classics and literary works, one group inhabited a place in the northern side of the isle of Srilanka and this place had come to be known as Yaazhpaanam.” (Veera kesari 9.12.1990.)

Taking all these into account we can but arrive at the conclusion given below : Rather than the claim that the name Yaazhpaanam had come into being from the Sinhalese version of Nallur- yaappapattunae, the contention that Yaappapattunae is the Sinhalese distortion of the pure Tamil word ‘Yaazhpaanam, is more applicable and acceptable. Though there is harmony of meaning between Yaapapattunae and Nallur, Mudaliar Rasanayakam’s argumentthat there was no need to give a previous name to Nallur and call it so, sounds true and agreeable.

Further, that which he points out in another place – “…… and also, the islamic travellers from western countries who had got down on this shore too had called it as Jappa, Sappa, and such other terms having the same intonation…” is also noteworthy. Further, the song given below, which comes in Kailayamaalai speaks of ‘Yaazhpaanam’ and Nalla Nagar as two different places and this should also be taken into account From all these, we can arrive at this conclusion only;- That Nallur and Singai Nagar were two different Rajadhanis, two different cities/towns. Yaappapattunae is but the distorted Sinhalese version of Yaazhpaanam. The claim that Yaazhpaanam has come from the Sinhalese version of Nallur, Yaappapattunae seems to have no probability at all.

Chapter 3: Nallur Rajadhani’s Historical Facts!

Information’s regarding Nallur Rajdhani are a rarity indeed. Temples, Market place, royal Palaces, labourers’ colony, places of dwelling of court bards,warriors, traders, the fortress round the city, the other forts around the city etc. can be called the important places of Nallur Rajdhani. There are references about the famous temple of Lord Muruga, the Kandaswami temple in Nallur in several works in portugese tongue such as ‘Conquest of Ceylon’, ‘Early Christainity in Ceylon’ etc. From the notes of Queroz Swamigal, the author of ‘Conquest of Ceylon’ we come to know that Nallur Kandhaswami temple was the biggest temple in the whole of Jaffna and that there were huge walls by way of fortification built around it.Further from these works mentioned above we can also know that this Kandaswami temple was in the very same area where we have a church now. Kandhaiya Gunarasa says that the ruins seen enroute to Yamunaari were of this big temple wall. (Veerakesari 15.8.93).

In ‘Yaazhpaana Vaibhava Maalai’, of Singaiariyarasan 1st, establishing his
empire’s Rajdhani in Nallur it is said as that given below:- “… on an auspicious day and time suggested by the astrologers, after much deliberation, laying the foundation stone and raising four walls also, and constructing the doorway too, and along with them constructing a garden and a ‘mandap’ for the purpose of taking bath (Snana Mandap) and a canal with walls on three sides and brining waters from Yamuna river and mixing it with the water of the canal, building the Mandap of Justice, constructing stables for arrangement of rows of horses, and elephants, constructing warriors ‘tenaments, building an agrahara for Gangadhara Iyer, who was the ‘Brahmakula Thilagar’ in Kasi, and his wife by name Annapoorani Ammal to live, building Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple for the safety of the eastern side and Veeramaakaliamman temple for the safety of the western side and for the northern region Sattanadheswar Shrine,Thayalnayagiamman temple, Salaivinayagar temple and doing the housewarming ceremony with his better half Thilagavathiar he lived there.” (Yaazhpaana Vaibhava malai).

As per the ‘Udhya Tharagai’ version of Yaazhpaana Vaibhgavamaalai. The Kailai vinayagar temple was also built by the aforesaid king for the safety of the southern side. We have already seen that Vaibhavamaalaiyar’s version abounds in historical untruths. The contention that it was not Nallur but Singainagar which the king Singaraya had first made the capital of his empire holds good. Mudaliar Rasanayagam’s ‘Yaazhpaana Charitham’(The history of Jaffna) has this to say of Nallur Rajadhani:

“…Kanagasurya along with his sons and battalions come to Yaazhpaanam and fought with Vijayabhagu, and, killing him he became the king and ruled his kingdom from Nallur. As his former Rajdhani Singai Nagar had been completely ruined and turned into a waste land,seeing Nullore filled with various resources, renovated that itself, building royal streets and places and surrounding them stables of stallions and elephants that are used in warfare and a beautiful garden with full of blooming flowers with sweet smells, building workshops and dwelling places of traders and artisans who create wonders in silk and cotton, and also places which were unmatched in style and expertise and which had skilfully made windows and ventilators,and different places of dwelling for carpenters, goldsmith, painters, diamond merchants, bards, lutists well – versed in music, exclusively, areas for upper – class businessmen, for the ‘Manthras of Brahmins, dwelling places of the landlords, exclusive areas where doctors, astrologers etc., lived, separate streets for peasants and farmhands and thus he made Nallur as befitting its name, a place of excellence, making one and all wonder whether it was the city of Lord Indra, or, rather, kubera.” (Yaazhpaana Charithram,p.76-77).

Of the Nallur under the rule of Kanagasurya Singaiarya’s son Singai Pararasasekaran, Mudaliar Rasanayagam says the following:-

“…After Kanagasurya, his first son, taking the title Singai Pararasasekaran became the king in 1478 A.D. It is he who was the first to use the name Singai as the first part of a name. He was even better than his father in ruling the country and he built Sattanadhar temple to the north of the city, Kailayanadhar temple in the south and Veiyi lugandha pillayar temple in the east and Veeramaakaaliamman temple in the western side and enhanced the pride and glory of his capital further. Bringing into being a lake by the side of Kandaswami temple and filling it with the sacred waters from Yamuna river brought in poles and named it asYamunaari (The lake of Yamuna)” – ‘Yaazhpaana Charithram’ – p.77In the case of Nallur Rajdhani, Mudaliar Rasanayagam’s version, more than that of anyone else, which he had arrived at after going through various important historical documents, is relevant and acceptable. During the military expedition of Sabumal Kumaraya alias Shenbagap – Perumal the whole of Yaazh city, including Singai Nagar, was destroyed and he established his capital in Nallur. Gaining possession of Kottai
when he went away there, leaving Nallur in the hands of Vijayabagu, Kanagasurya Singaiariyan who had been defeated by Shenbagap Perumal and sought shelter in Tamilnadu came back with his two sons Pararasasekaran and Kajarasasekaran and, waging war he retrieved from Vijayabagu his lost empire. This is history. In his time and under the rule of his son Nallur Rajdhani’s layout took on many important changes. Thus these changes took place after Nallur became a Rajdhani but they were wrongly perceived by Kailaya Maalaiyar, who has the confusion of seeing Singainagar and Nallur as one and the same, and also by Mayilvahanap Pulavar who wrote his work Vaibhava mallai based on the afore – said incorrect viewpoint, as happenings during the rule of Arya King who made Singai Nagar his Rajdhani. As more historians accept the contention of Mudaliar Rasanayagam and that it is this contention which rectifies the historical incorrectness in ‘Vaibhavamaalaiyar’s claim, I am convinced that Mudaliar Rasanayagam’s contention is true and correct. Hence, based on this contention let us accept the historical facts about Nallur Rajdhani and turn our attention towards other issues.

Chapter 4: Nallur Kandaswami Temple!

Let’s look at what the books have to say about the rest of the places that were in Nallur Rajdhani. Historical works offer us a lot of contradictory details about Nallur Kandaswami temple which was one of the significant features of Nallur Rajdhani. The song given below which comes in Kailayamaalai has caused the controversy. “…ilakkiya sagaptha Yenntrezhubhadha……” (Tamil cheyul) According to Swami Gnanaprakasar, Va. Kumaraswami and such others the term ‘Yennootrezhubadhu’ refers to the year 1248 A.D. And, the word Yenn In the above given verse refers tothousand(aayiram) and that which comes by adding one hundred and seventy (nootrezhubadhu) with thousand is the saga year 1170 and this points at 1248 A.D., they hold. As per one Dainel John, saga year ‘Yennoothrezhubadhu’ means 948 A.D. As per Mudaliar Rasanayaka’s contention also saga year 870 means 948 A.D. Bhuvanegubagu who was spoken of in this song was referred to as the minister of Aryan king and the one who constructed the Nallai kandan temple in such works as Kailayamaalai, Yaazhpaana Vaibhava maalai etc. But, none can hide the fact that in Nallur temple panegyric, ‘Sirisangabodhi Bhuvanegubagu was referred to as the one who brought the temple into being. It is the king called SirisangabodhiBhuvanegubagu who made Nallur the Rajdhani and ruled from there from 1450 A.D. to 1467 A.D. under the name Sappumal Kumaraya. Going by the contention of Kandhaiah Gunarasa we understand that holding as facts these two Bhuvanesgabagus an illustration to that effect had also been brought forth.He firmly concludes the first Bhuvanegubagu as but a tamil name.

“ are two other proofs to claim that Nallur Kandhaswami temple was built by Bhuvanegavagu (as like the tamil name Veeravagu)…” (Veera Kesari 15.8.93).

“..Whatever be the case we can take it as that the Nallur Kandhaswami temple built for the first time by one Bhuvanegavaagu in the year 948 A.D. As some historical books refer to him as a minister there is nothing wrong in taking him to have been the state representative of the king or the minister..”. (Veerakesari 15.8.93).

After arriving at this conclusion K.Gunarasa had no alternative except bringing about a compromise between the two Bhuvanegavagu. In the end he could only arrive at the conclusion that the Nallur Kandhan temple which was built in two different times by two different Bhuvanegavagu was destroyed by the porthugese and rebuilt for the third time. The historical books referred by him were in fact such works as Yaazhpaana Vaibhava Maalai, Kailayamaalai only. Many eminent analysts and researchers of history firmly believe that the historical details given in these works have no historical basis or ethics at all. And, in this issue, Mudaliar Rasanayagam’s conclusion stands out as the only conclusion that is logically acceptable.

‘.Kailayamalai would say that Bhuvanegavaagu was the minister of the first king segarasan and the Vaibhavamaalai would say that it was he who built the Nallur Kandhaswami temple. But, the contention that Bhuvanegavaagu built the Nallur Kandhaswami temple could hold good only as a legend. And, KailayaMalaiyar who had heard of it, either unable to find out the identify of Bhuvanegavaagu who had lived within a span of three hundred years or in order to hide the fact that he was a Sinhalese, for some reason or other, decorated him as the minister of
Segarasan. As thereis the mention in the panegyric of Nallur Kandaswami temple which hails and glorifies Sreesangabodhi Bhuvanegavaagu, nothing and none can hide it, and none can hide it for sure..’ (Yaazhpaana Charithram, p.252)

Hence, it would indeed be a surprise if the fact were to be that the NallurKandaswami temple was built by two different Bhuvanegavaagus in two different times. For, it is very unusual that the two had the same name Bhuvanegavaagu. The possibility of such a thing is indeed next to nil, to say the least.

Chapter 5: Nallur Fort And Its Surrounding Walls!

The practice of Tamil kings in Building their Rajdhanis as forts was a habit born of security reasons. In books like Yaazhpaana Vaibhavamaalai, Kailayamallai and, also in sinhalese books such as Porthukeya, ‘Gokila Sandhesam’ several reference about Nallur fort can be seen here and there.About Kanagasurya Singaiariyam who was hiding in Tamilnadu and then came back to wage war, Vaibhavamaalai has this to say: “… When Kanagasurya Singaiaryan arrived at Madurai, all the small kings who were ruling the Pandya kingdom divided into various small kingdoms, handed over their troops and weapons and with all those weapons he reached Yaazhapaanam and entered it through the western gate”. (Vaibavamaalai, page 47). And, it is too well known that the western gate mentioned here is but the western gate of Nallur fort.

In the chapter on the expedition of the Portugese army also there is a reference to this Westerngate.

” .. beyond the gate, fixing the space in front of the gates of Nallur temple as the battlefield, they started the battle on the chosen day and conducted it for eleven days…”. (Vaibhavamaalai, Page 70).

The Porthugese notes too give a detailed account of this warfare. In the book called, ‘The Conquest of Ceylon’ there are references about the western gate of Nallur fort being at a stone throw from Veeramaakaaliyamman temple and about the battle too. That there was a northern gate to the Nallur fort and a temple of Shiva safeguarding the gate are also referred in the story of subathitta saint which comes in Vaibhavamaalai.

” … amoung those temples the temple of Shiva that slood safeguarding the northern gate, that alone would be realized first and foremost by one who had earned the blessings of Lord Shiva…”. (Vaibharamaalai, page 53-54)

The historical books provide no references regarding the eastern gate or southern gate of the city. And, it is my wish to study the historical works such as those of Porthugese, with great care and attention and undertake research works on them. For, such efforts might unearth many more factual details.


One of the books of Porthugese titled ‘Early Christianity in Ceylon’ (17th Century narrative) speaks about the market – place situated in Nallur

Rajdhani and inform us that the market was situated in such a way that the king could watch the proceedings of the market from his palace. It must be this market place that would have been the ‘royal market’ or designated market ( @muthrai chandai ) then. We could learn that during the rule of Tamil Kings the clothes sold in the market place bore the sign of the royal emblem and so sold.

“As like the time of Tamil Kings’ rule clothes that did not bear the sign of the royal emblem could not be sold. And, a tax was levied for affixing the royal sign also. “(Yaazhpaana charithiram, page 148). Seems like the name ‘Muthirai Chandhai’ (Royal market / Designated market) must have come into vogue because of this only.

There are also differing opinions about Yamunaari which is one of the Rarely seen monuments of the ancientness. One group claims that this was a tank that the Tamil Kings built for bathing purposes while the other holds that this was the sacred tank of Big Kandhaswami temple. Vaibhavamaalayar says that this tank was built by the king Singairiyarasan the First. But, Mudaliar Rasanayagam who has studied history too very minutely, holds that it was Singaipararasa sekaran who was one of the sons of Kanagasurya Singaiariyan who had constructed this canal – like tank. As this Yamuna lake is situated close to the place where old Kandhasami temple stood in the past, and as it is said to have come to be called as Yamunaari because waters were brought from one of the sacred rivers of the Hindus, the Yamuna river, and as the chance of a big Murugan temple having existed without a sacred tank is too remote, more than the contention that it was used for bathing purposes by the members of the royal family the claim that it must have been the sacred tank of old Kandhasami temple sounds sensible. This tank, having the shape of the syllable ‘pa’ in tamil, i.e, a square – like shape, is very beautiful. Later on, during the foreign rule it must have been used by then for bathing and washing. May be that is why people like J.B. Louise must have thought that this tank was used by the members of the tamil royal family.

Mudaliar Rasanayagam would say that in Nallur Rahdhani the houses were constructed in various styles for people in various professions. The way Nallur was renovated after Kanagasurya Singaiyarian won it back is described in Yaazhpaana Charithram thus.

“…Seeing that Nallur was rich with resources of all kinds he decided to renovate it and build royal palaces and roads, surrounding them elephant stalls, horses’ stables and beautiful garden with blooming, lovely flowers of all hues and tinges and then the dwelling places of caftsmen who were engaged in skilfully working on sill and cotton, and mansions with beautifully made window’s and ventilators and also separate dwelling places for carpenter, goldsmith, painter, diamond merchant, iron – smith, bards, lutists well – versed in books on music ……”

The city layout was said to be so. How much of these descriptions were true can be found out in the course of our research on the city layout plans and theories of the Hindus and also when studing the names of various roads and streets and plots ( ‘kani’ ) which are in vogue in the present day Nallur.

In a sinhalese work by name ‘Gokula santhesam’ (‘Message through kujil’)according to which the building seen in the city belonged to the fifteenth century (this book was written to sing the glory of Suppumal Kumaraiya’s Victory of Yaazhpaanam) there are description’s about the buildings in the city also. They are as follows:

“In Yapa Pattunae grand, tall buildings stand in rows. Golden’ flags decorate these can the aptly be compared with the City of Azhagapuri which was the capital of Lord Kubera “(Yaazhpaana Rachiyam_ Kalanidhi C.K. Sitrambalam, Eelamurasu 4.3.94).

Through the Porthugese notes we learn that there were three small forts to safeguard Nallur Rajdhani. These were built in three places called Koppaai, Pannaithurai, and Kozhumbuthurai, Kottadi which is seen close to Pannaithurai seems to be the changed version of Kottaiadi. From the books of Porthugese we come to know that there were main roads to connect these forts to Nallur Rajdhani and that all along these main roads there were check posts. Queroz Gurukkal’s ‘Conquest of ceylon describes the details of war that the portugese waged on Nallur Rajdhani.

Chapter 6: Field Research – Work Information!

As regards the preservation of the signs and symbols of ancient time the tamils generally lag behind, we should say. We brag about our past glory and the greatness of our ancient rulers but we don’t give proper care and attention for the preservation of the symbols or monuments of our ancient glory. And, Nallur Rajdhani stands as a glaring example to this. Even those handful of historical monuments existing in the city which was once the capital are in a very pitiable state. Yamunaari which is full of bushes, Pandarakulam which is plunged deep in sickening silence with debris strewn all over, the space of land where, it is believed, the Koppai fort that has ruins fold the history of an important period of time,stoodonce – all these stand, telling us numerous stories. Though there are but afew monuments that enunciate the pride and glory of Nallur Rajdhani, theexisting plot / land names, street names and the like enable us to gatherthe details of the city lay – out of Nallur Rajadhani, atleast to some extent.

The temples that are there now such as Sattanadhar temple, Veiyilugandha pillayar koil, Kailasanadhar aalayam, Veeramaakaaliamman aalayam, Nallaikandan aalayam – all these had been demolished by the Porthugese and then reconstructed at a later stage. Though these were not structures constructed during the period when Nallur was a Rajdhani, i.e, the capital city, as they are the replicas of the temples of the city when Nallur was the ‘Rajdhani they too remain, albeit in an indirect manner, as the monuments that highlight the city layout of Nallur Rajdhani.

The Royal Market:
The junction where the street that goes eastward towards the Nallur temple and the way to the Point Pedro street come together is called ‘Muthrai Santhai’. During the period when Nallur was the capital city of Tamil kings the market place must have been here only. While travelling through this place called ‘Muthirai Santhai’, my thoughts invariably wandered for a moment towards those bygone days when the place would have been full of din and noise and hectic activities and the Arya King who used to watch its busy routine from his palace.

The Labourer’s Southeast side segment:
Generally the market would be situated the centre of the city. Going by this general rule and keeping the possibility of this market – place having been the centre of Nallur Rajdhani when we carried out the field – work through the city we could come across a lot of surprising factual informations and statistics. We found out that the names that were in vogue in the area situated southeastward to this market place were generally of the workers’ clan. ‘Thattaan Theru’ (Goldsmith’s street), ‘Saayakkara theru’ (Dyer’s street), Coppersmith street, Dyer’s street and so on indicate that the area could have been the workers’ habitat once upon a time’

Traders’ Soldiers’ and Royal Staff’s locality:
The streets on the southwest side and the names of the plots there generally give us the impression that the area could have been the habitat of traders, royal staff, soldiers’ and such other sections of the society.

King, Brahmin and the Court bard’s Area:
That the place situated Northwestward to the royal market place was a very important locality of the Nallur Rajdhani era is proclaimed by the names of lands and streets there and also by Pandarakulam. The following can be said as areas / places of importance.

1. Sangili thoeppu (Sangili grove)
2. Sangiliyan Veedhi (Sangiliyan street)
3. Arasa Veedhi (Royal road)
4. Pandaramaaligai Valaivu (The arch of Pandaramaaligai)
5. Pandarakulam (Kulam – pond)
6. Arasakesari Valaivu – (The arch of Arasakesari)
7. Kurukkal Valaivu – (Kurukkal arch)
8. Arasaveli – (Royal space)
9. Mandhirimanai (Minister’s abode)

The very names Sangili thoeppu, Sangiliyan Veedhi, Arasaveedhi, Arasaveli, Pandara maaligai Valaivu, Pandara Kulam stand for the link that existed between the tamil regime and themselves. In the names such as pandara Maaligai, Pandara Kulam, the term ‘Pandara’, according to many, refers to the Tamil king. Mudaliar Kula Sabanathan opines that the term refers to Pararasasekara Pandaram. There were many kings, having names that ended with the term ‘Pandaram’. ‘Puviraraja Pandaram’ was one of them. One of the sons of Lakshmidevi, the legal queen of Pararasasekaran was also pandaram. The coconut grove encompassing some six acre area is called Pandara Valavu. In a portion of this grove which is close to the present Nallur market place and which isfacing the street ‘Paruthithurai Veedhi’ there is a pillar with the words’Pandaramaaligai’ engraved on it. Closely, there is a statue of Vairavarwith a small porch. And in this porch the following words are sculpted.

“Entrance of Pandara Maalagai, a place of two thousand year old and which the Tamil kings preserved and safeguarded and prayed and where the Nallai ‘Theradip Padhi Urai Padhi’. The temple of Sri Bairava and Aadhimoolam, the god of gods – is inside’.

Arasakesari Valavu The Arch of Arrasakesari:
The name of a piece of land seen in this area / locality is Arasakesari Valaivu. This place reminds one of the Tamil poet Arasakesari who had translated Kalidasa’s work in sanskrit language into Tamil. The poet Mayilvaagana Pulavar speaks of Arasakesari as the son-in-law of Pararasasekaran:

‘ ……… Arasakesari, who was the brother-in-law of Paranirubasinga and the son-in-law of Pararasasekaran translated the book called ‘Raguvamsam’ written in a worth-Indian language and, going on foot reciting it all along the way he reached Thiruvarur…’. (Vaibhavamalai 50-51)

But, Mudaliar Rasanayakam holds that he is Singai Pararasasekaran’s brother-in-law: According to Swami Gnanaprakasa ,Raguvamsa was written during the reign of Edhirmanna Singa Pararasasekaran. It is the confusion which prevails as to whether the above – mentioned Pararasasekaran was singai Pararasekaran or Pararasasekaran the Eighth that has resulted in the contradiction seen above.

‘Kurukkal Valavu’:
The present location of Nallur Kandaswami temple is called Kurukkal Valavu. It might be be cause it was the habitat of the brahmins during the period of the Tamil kings’ rule that the place had earned this name, i.e- Kurukkal Valavu.

Sangili thoeppu and Mandhirimanai:
The structure which is called ‘Mandhirimanai’ these days is said to belong to the Fay end period of the 19th century. Several aspects of European and Dravidian architectural styles can be perceived in this construction. The piece of land on which this Mandhirimanai stands is called Sangili thoppu. Determining whether this area belonged to the minister or the king is a bit complex. Yet, the fact that places like Arasaveli, Arasaveedhi, Sangiliyan Veedhi, Pandara Kulam, Pandara Maaligai Valavu and such other which bear exclusive significance for the royal clan alone and the fact that the place where the above – mentioned ‘Mandhirimanai’ is situated is called Sangili thoeppu are noteworthy. There could have been groves owned by the Tamil kings. Later on during the regime of the foreigners, during the period of those successors of the Tamil Kings or even after that this grove could have become the dwelling place of a minister. There is room for these possibilities too. All these are monuments that proclaim the significance of the aforesaid Northwest region.

Northeast region having royal and divine significance:
We can name the following as the important historical monuments that are seen in the north – east region.

1. Yamunaari
2. The place where the church is located today. This is the place where
the old Kandaswami temple had been.
3. The front portion of a palace which reflects the style of Dutch
“Ollandhu” architecture. (This is called `Kalthorana Vaayil, Sangili thoppu

The land on which this porch is situated bears the name `Pandiya Maaligai Valavu’ (the arch of Pandiyan palace). These above mentioned historical monuments proclaim loudly that this place was one of royal and divine significance.

Chapter 7: Fort Entrance , Fort Base, And Veyilugantha Pillaiyar Temple!

Having the ‘Muthirai Santhai’ (Market) as the focal point and viewing things it becomes clear that some sort of structural evenness which can be perceived there is indirectly pointing at the city layout of the ancient Nallur Rajdhari. At the same time what the historical books say of the West, North gateways of Nallur Rajdhari also came to my mind and so when I set out to see whether I could find out any information about the East, South gateways of the Rajdhari from the present Nallur city lay-out, more informations came my way.

1. Sattandhar temple
2. Church (the place where the old Nallur temple stood)
3. Veiyilugandha Pillayar Temple
4. The present Nallur Kandhan temple
5. The place where the old Veeramma kaliyamman temple should have been.
6. The spot where the old Kailasanadhar temple should have been

The piece of land that falls close to the Veiyilugandha Pillayar is called Koettai Vaasal (Fort entrance). Another piece of land in the Southeast Regions is called koettai adi.The fact that a piece of land having the name `Koettai adi’ is lying near to the Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple gives room to think on the line that the eastern entrance of the Nallur Rajdhari must have been in that region only. When an attempt was made in the same way to find out whether there is any piece of land reminding of `Koettai’ that didn’t prove fruitful. It was then that a spark flew in my mind. If the royal-market had been the focal point of Nallur Rajdhari, then the two big roads of the Nallur `Rajdhani – North -South, East-West must have met each other near the market. If that were to be so, the road from the north towards the market must have run straight without taking a curve in the direction of the Nallur Temple. Like-wise, the road from west towards the ‘Muthirai Santhai’ too must have gone straight. But, the road that runs close to the Veiyilugandha Pillayar Temple curves near the church, and meets the Point pedro street. But, it can be seen that if that street were to have come straight it would have exactly cut across the designated market place.

From our investigations we could find one more thing. That both Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple and Sattanadhar temple are at an equidistance from the ‘Muthirai Santhai’. Taking into account the available historical facts as well as information’s derived from field examinations we can say with conviction that Nallur Rajdhani must have existed with some kind of structural evenness and regularity.

So, all the four temples must have been at an equidistance from the ‘Muthirai Santhai’. Among the temples that were demolished during the Porthugese rule Nallur Kandhan temple, as there was a church in the place where the temple had been earlier was built in the place called Kurukkal valavu. Based on this only the Kailasanadhar temple which was built afterwards might have been constructed. Because, both Veeramaa Kaliyamman and Kailasandhar temple are at an equal distance from Kandaswami temple.

Another surprising factor is that we can also see that this distance is the same distance that the Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple and Sattanadhar temple are from the ‘Muthirai Santhai’.

Considering the fact that the ‘Muthirai Santhai’ was the centre of Nallur Rajdhani, we can reasonably contend that the temples which were in all the four directions must have been somewhat at an equidistance from the market place. But, seeing that the Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple and the Sattanadhar temple of these days are at an exactly same distance from the place called the ‘Muthirai Santhai’ it looks like that the temples which were demolished during the rule of Porthugese must have been rebuilt in some nearby spot or at the exact spot itself. At the same time the other three temples – the Nallur Kandhasami temple, Kailasanadhan temple and the Veeramaakaliyamman temple had been built in new, different spots when their reconstuction took place. Not only that, when they were so built the other two temples must have been constructed having Nallaikandhan temple as the center.

In the course of our field research works we were able to come across another important factor also. Veeramaakaliyamman temple which is the shrine of Kottravai, the tamils’ goddess of war’ is situated in places such as Aanaippandhi which is associated with warfare.The temple of Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple who is the defending god of farmers is located in the area adjacent to Semmani which is full of

agricultural fields. And, the other two temples have been built for the safety and security of the Rajdhani.

When we compared the informations about Nallur Rajdhani obtained through field research works and also the assumptions based on those informations with that of the Ancient Hindus of city layout norms and forms, many more facts surfaced.

Chapter 8: Ancient Books and Architecture!

During the Vedic period itself the architectural knowledge and capabilities of Hindus had progressed a lot. The branch of science dealing with architecture was called ‘Vaasthu – Vidhya’. And, the books that enunciate this were called Vaasthu – Sasthra works. Mythological books like Matsyapurana, Vishnu dharmothra purana and so on, and books on Scripture like ‘Hayasirsha Pancharatra Agama’, ‘Vaiganasa Agama’ etc lay down the rules and regulations of temple – structure. In the mediaeval period some more books came into being in this branch of science.

Manasara, Shilpaprakasha and the like are noteworthy. In Tamil also there appeared books such as Chinthamani, Sirparathnam etc. Though there exists some dissimilarities between these, they were having a common viewpoint in general. Usually the divine sculptor Viswakarma is called the principal author of North Indian books on architecture. Mayan is usually referred to as the principal author of south Indian works. From the rules and norms laid down by these books on architecture we can see how much religion had influenced the structural patterns of the city and its buildings. Till the mediaeval period all those available informations pertaining to the field had been orally passed on from father to son and so on. Only in the mediaeval period all those available informations about the field were for the first time recorded in the palmyra leaves in the written form of language. In the year 1920 a person called Stella Kramisch had studied very many of these palmyra leaves. Let us look at some of the important information’s that these leaves impart. In particular, let us look at the information’s on city layout.

Universe and Hindu’s Architecture:
In the philosophies of the Upanishads of Hindus, we find descriptions about ‘Brahmam’ or Brahma. He who has no beginning nor end and who is ‘Omnipresent’ is Brahma. And, gods like Siva, Vishnu, Brahma and others are the physical images of this formless Brahma. And, he who is called ‘Vasthu Purushan’ or ‘Vasthu Dhevan’ is the one who had been created out of this formless principal image. And, having him as the focal point, the field of architecture of the Hindus had progressed. The above – mentioned books on architecture describe this image with a physical form, the Vasthu Purusha as the Vasthu Purusha Mandalam (Vasthu Male zone). And, in the same way how the physical form of Vasthu Purusha was created out of the formless brahman, the architects also while shaping the formless environment into buildings with concrete forms make it a point to do it in a way that would please and satisfy the Vasthu Deva mentioned above. From this it becomes evident that the Hindus preserved the association between Man and Universe even in constructing buildings.

Those who view the buildings of Hindus and that of Budhists would easily comprehend one thing. Budhists building towers have been built in a round, circular shape. But, the buildings of Hindus are of square or rectangular shape.Anuradhapuram is one of the important cities of the Budhists. How much the round or circular shape had influenced the ancient city and building style of architecture is brought out by a sinhalese professor by name Rolan-de-silva who has undertaken an in-depth study of the said issue. In the ancient Anuradhapura city which was created with the market place as the axis, round – shaped stupas (Thadhu Gopangal) around the city of Anuradhapura in a circular fashion, were built in two different streams, and these informations are authentically arrived at in his investigations. The circular form implies ‘motion’ or movement. Birth and Death, Night and Day – so the passage of time which moves on in a sort of circular motion is implied in the above – mentioned round shape. Further, this round shape would also refer to the nature or character of the world we are in. That the Budhists who believe more in the doctrine of materialism chose the round shape is no surprise at all.

Unlike it the square – shape is a decisive and clear form. It doesn’t imply motion as like the circular form. The Hindus viewed this Universe as a square shaped space created by such others and identified the impact of time on this space in terms of ‘Rasis’ (Zodiac). From this it becomes clear that as claimed by the Neo-physics the hindus too had understood this Universe as a spatial time frame. And, the fact that the hindus who identified this Universe as a square-shaped frame have structured the buildings and cities too which had been constructed based on these laws as square-shaped (or rectangular) is not something surprising.

Thus, cities and buildings were structured, keeping in line with this ‘Vasthu Purusha Mandala’ formed in square shape. Each and every god was created as small small squares. This square-shaped ‘Vaashtu Purusha Mandala’ was divided into many more small, tiny squares. And, these small, tiny squares were called ‘Padas’. Each small square would be occupied by a god. And, in the centre of Vaasthu Purusha Mandala there would be a big square comprising of many small squares. This square stood for Brahma.


Manduka Mandala:1. Brahma’s four squares.
2. Belonging to the next important gods 2 squares.
3. Belonging to the rest of the gods. 1 square.

The above cited Vaasthu Purusha Mandala would be divided in such a way with the squares of the gods comparitively of less importance surrounding Brahma. Vaasthu Purusha Mandala can be formed in 32 different ways in square – shape.From a square shaped Vaasthu Purusha Mandala 4,9,16,25,36,49,64,81……… and so on, in thirty – two different ways comprising of 1024 small squares, the Vaasthu Purusha Mandala can be made .This is enunciated in out ancient Indian books on architecture. In such Vaasthu Purusha Mandalas or zones that which is called ‘Manduka Mandala’ comprising of 64 small squares and another called Parama Sayika Mandala comprising of 81 small squares are important :

Parama Sayika Mandala : 

As for ‘Manduka Mandala’ the whole square would be divided by the two axes that go North-south and East-west. In the case of ‘Parama Sayika Mandala’ the entire squire would be unevenly divided. Thus, each and every building (be it a temple or a house) and city that are constructed according to the architectural norms or laws of hindhus stand as symbols highlighting the hindhus’ laws and principles of creation in right earnest, and, they are structured in such a way as to reveal the modes and codes of Hindhus’s laws of creation, so to say. This, in turn, reveals the key role that religion plays in our city and building construction – works. (Though there exists slight differences between the Vaasthu Purusha Mandala spoken of in North Indian books of Architecture and that explained in South Indian Works, in general, there is no great difference or disparity. In the South Indian temple cities of Madurai, Srirangam and such others this difference or deviation is clearly


There were many factors that went into determining the city layout style and pattern of the Hindus. The Nature and structure of the land, the Nature & structure of its soil, the social system prevailant in the land as like the caste constraints and restrictions etc, scriptures all played an important role in the city lay-out style and pattern of the Hindus. According to the structure and quality of the land they had divided it into
three categories.

This referred to the dry land with no water, river and other resources.

This refers to the highly fertile land with abundant water resources
and cool, pleasant climate.

The average kind of land that was neither Jangala nor Anopa was called

The role played by the colour of the soil, its dour, the sounds Produced by it, its flavour in the city layout pattern of the Hindus, has been well brought out by the western author Andras Volwahsen in his work called ‘Living Architecture – Indian’, of which some lines are given

” The colour of the soil, its sound, flavour, the feeling it produced were all taken into consideration and studied with great care. The colour of the sand identified the castes of people who were suitable to be settled there. White, red, yellow, black were important colours. The white colour soil was considered suitable for brahmins, the red for kshathrias, yellow for Vaishyas and black colour soil for soodhras. There also existed connection between the flavour of the soil and the caste system. The sweet soil was considered to belong to the brahmins, the hot and pungent soil to the Vaishyas, the soil with bitter flavour to the ‘soodhras’. The soil which when tapped would produce sounds like the bark of dogs or the bray of donkeys or thehowl of the jackal should be avoided at all cost.” (Living Architecture Indian – page 44)

The slant or declivity of the land structure was also taken into account. The city should be built on the soil that has declivity towards the northern or eastern side. The hindus believed that the south bound declivity would bring death and the south west bound slope, sufferings; west-bound slope-poverty and destruction of crops; declivity towards the north west direction-war. After the land most suited for constructing the city was chosen in this way, from out of the 32 different varieties of ‘Vaasthu Purusha Mandala’ the suitable variety would be selected by a guru having great scholarship in astrology. The city would be constructed in square shape (if it proves impossible, in a rectangular shape). Andreas Volwashsen says in his ‘Living Architecture Indian’ (page 47) that from the informations given in the ‘ancient books (‘suvadikal’) on varieties of architectural styles and patterns we come to know that the cities of perfect square – shapes belonged to the brahmins alone, and, as for the other castes they should live in rectangular – shaped cities only. And, the layout of the city which would be constructed thus with the right and suitable Vaasthu Purusha Mandala chosen would appear as follows:

1. Fortitying walls would be built round the city.
2. The city would appear as a big square comprising of so many small squares, separated by the roads, that run north-south and east-west.
3. The city would have been divided into two parts by two broad royal roads that run north-south and east-west.
4. The royal roadway thus built would differ according to the character of the city. Forn instance, in the case of big cities this royal roadway would be 12 metre width and in ordinary cities it would be of 10 metre breadth and if it is a city with just the market place, it would be of 8 metre width only.
5. To go round the city, on the interior side o the fortifying wall also a road would be built. This road would be as wide as the royal roadway. Apart from this the ancient hindus’ books on Architecture also speak of what sort of people would live in which direction of the city. We can cite the following as examples to this:
a, ‘The habitats of such people as brahmins, astrologers, the royal authorities and officers of royalty and police force should be in the North and North west regions.
b, The dwelling places of goldsmiths and those who do such other works should be in the southeast reion.
c, The dwelling places of prison authorities, soldiers, fishermen and cowherds should be in the southwest.
d, Market place in Northeast. e
, Places like the royal palaces should be in the east- So, the ancient hindus, books on Architecture say. Though these rules and regulations could not be fully adhered to while constructing a city, the dwelling places situated in the city should certainly be built with castewise divisions. All these tell us in clear terms the role that caste played in the field of city layout.


The south Indian temple cities such as Srirangam, Madurai etc, reveal the fact that the South-Indian concepts and norms of Vaasthu Purusha Mandala are ideologically a little different from that of the Vaasthu Purusha Mandala enunciated in the North Indian Architectural books. The centre space where the main temple would be situated belongs to the formless brahma who has no beginning nor end. In this region the prime temple would be built. And, there would be fortifying walls built round it. The place adjacent to this belong to the rest of the gods. And the place even beyond that belong to the human-beings. The last portion belong to the evil-spirits and ‘poothas’.

1. Brahma’s reign
2. The region of the other gods
3. The region assigned to human-beings
4. The region of the ‘Poothas’.

If the North-Indian Vaasthu Purusha Mandala enunciates about creation, the South-Indian Vaasthu Purusha Mandala reveals the order and regularity that prevail in the ‘Created’ universe. This can be realized from the order and organization seen in the temple cities mentioned above The temple-city Madurai is a beautiful city with temple-towers. It is aptly called ‘Naan Maadak Koodal (The Communion of four towers). A renowned temple city it has in its fold temples such as the famous Madurai Meenakshiamman temple and Sundareswarar temple that have towers and fortifying walls and comprising of the ‘thousand-foot’ Mandap, the pond belonging to the temple and fortifying walls surrounding all these and entrance on all the four-sides of the walls and so built. Nallur was not just a temple city as like the city of Madurai. It was also the capital city-Rajdhani. That’s why Nallur had qualities of a temple city as well as of a Rajdhani.

Here, it should be stated that there is a reason for my calling Madurai as a temple-city. In Madurai city the region where the temples are situated is in itself constructed in the manner of a city only. It is that region or place that is referred to as the temple city of Madura. Kanagasurya Singaiariyan who was defeated by Sabumala Kumaraya had spent his last days in Tamil Nadu with his sons Pararasasekaran and Segarasasekaran. During that period the impact that the temple cities like Madurai had on prince Pararasasekaran might have been the reason why when he expanded Nallur Rajdhani he made it into a temple city.

Thus, adhering to the rules of Vaasthu Purusha Mandala, cities of numerous varieties had been built. Thanthaga, Sarvadhopatra, Nandhiavartha, Padmaga, Swaasthika, Prasthira, Kaamukaanda, Sadhurmuga ……. So they were called in various names. Of these, some varieties were best suited for small cities or villages. We can cite as example, the variety called ‘Thanthaga’. Such small cities or villages had two main gateways. Those cities of the ‘Nandhyavartha’ variety had temple as their axis or central point. Of those varieties wherein there were two main roadways running North-South and east -west which met in the centre and which had fortifying walls too, swasthika was the very significant one. This was the most popular of all varieties.

Apart from these there were some more other varieties also. Cities of these varieties remained as each belonging to a particular caste only. For instance, we can name ‘Kheta’. In this type of city the ‘suththiras’ alone were allowed to live. As they were in the lowest strata of the caste-based social system of Hindus they were considered as half-men, or, imperfect human, so to say. Hence, the cities which were constructed exclusively for the class of people were also built in an imperfect manner. The structure of such cities was such that there were no important or central place and that the lay-out of these cities was such that lent less importance to the city as well as to its structure. The lay-out of these cities bringsforth the sad state of being, of the soodras who lived in the insignificant layer of the social strata.

The role that religion, caste and such other factors, played in the architectural style and pattern of the city layout of the Hindus is being revealed and highlighted even today by the informations that the books on ancient hindus’ architecture offer us


So far we have seen the historical factors about Nallur Rajdhani and also several details about the city layout and architectural norms, styles and patterns of the ancient hindus. Further, in several places I have given some facts about the Nallur Rajdhani that might have existed once. Now, let us review all those in detail. The following can be called the very first step that I took up in examining the layout of the city; that the market place of the city was situated at the centre.

Generally market place would be situated in the region where the main roads converge. This arrangement is important for the success of the market. The fact that right from Anuradhapura which was one of the important big cities of the Buddhists, in many an ancient city the market place was situated in the region where the city’s main roadways meet. That’s why I arrived at the conclusion that there must have been a market place in the central part of Nallur Rajdhani. And, so I concluded that the place called ‘Muthirai Sandhai(market)’ must be referring to this market placementioned above. When we view the city’s layout with having the market place as the central part, its structural order and regularity is clearly revealed. To put it more effectively, the order and discipline of the city’s layout originates from this central point and this lands further strength to my conclusion. Secondly, I arrived at the conclusion that the capital city of Nallur was divided by two principal roadways. The following can be cited as proofs for my contention:

That there were entrances at the western and northern sides of the Rajdhani is revealed by the historical books and notes. The names of lands that are in vogue in the eastern regions of the city such as Kottai Vaasal, Kottai adi (Fort – Entrance, Fort – base) implied that there might have been the eastern entrance in that region. As the historical works hold that Veeramakaliyamman temple was safeguarding the west-side entrance and the Saltanadhar temple stood for the safety of the Northern entrance, I arrived at the conclusion that the Veiyilugandha pillayar temple must have been guarding the east side entrance. Historians claim that the king Singai Pararasasekaran had built those four temples Veeramaakaliyamman temple, Sattanadhar temple, Veiyilugandha pillayar temple and Kailasanadhar temple for safeguarding the city from all the four directions. Taking this theory into consideration I concluded that there must have been a southern entrance to the Rajdhani and that it must have been guarded by Kailasanadhar temple.

After deciding on these I went on to conclude that because the Rajdhani had four gateways the city should have been divided by the two main – North South, East West roadways that connect the four entrances to the city. After arriving at the conclusion that the city was thus divided by the two principal roadways it became easy to go from there and reach the that the market place was situated in the region where the two main roads converged.

On concluding that the city had been built as having four entrances and two main roadways and four temples safeguarding the four gateways there arose some problems. The temples seen today were those demolished by the Porthugese. How then to find out their locations during the period of Nallur Rajdhani? As mentioned earlier, when I arrived at the conclusion that the region called the ‘Muthirai Santhai’ (market place) must have been the central part of the city, I could see from the present city maps that the distance between this point and the Veiyilugandha pillayar temple and also the distance between this central region and the Sattanadhar temple were exactly the same. Moreover, the fact that the Veiyilugandha pillayar temple was situated in the east and the Sattanadhar in the west was also taken note of (As for the rest of the temples, that they were built in the same way as mentioned earlier, in the chapter on field research work, was also taken note of) From these the following conclusion’s are arrived at:

As the distance to the sattanadhar temple and to the Veiyilugandha pillayar temple from the centre place, i.e, ‘Muthirai Santhai’ ( the market place), is exactly the same, these two must have been rebuilt in their same old locations or somewhere closeby.

2. As the Nallur Kandasami temple was rebuilt in ‘Kurukkal Valavu’ it could be that the Veeramaakaliyamman temple and Kailasanadhar temple were constructed having this as the central point. The city layout of the Rajdhani: Moreover, as the distance of the Sattanadhar temple and that of the Veiyilugandha pillayar temple (from the royal market) is exactly the same, and as the place where the market place was located had been the centre of the Rajdhani we can say that the shape of the Nallur Rajdhani city structure might have been either square or circular. As from the available informations and details on the ancient architectural styles and norms of the Hindus we come to Know that the Hindus adopted the square-shape and also, as the tamil kings were hindus it was concluded that the Nallur Rajdhani’s architectural form was square- shaped. As per the datas and proofs given by the architectural books of the Ancient Hindus we can understand that the city was castewise structured. Further, the names of plots / lands that exist in today’s Nallur and the monuments there also lay emphasis on this aspect it is understood that Nallur Rajdhani too had been built thus castewise structured. (But, in truth, it should be seen as vocation – based than of caste – based division)

As per the informations imparted by the ancient architectural writings of the ancient hindus the north and northwestern region were considered proper for the brahmins and astrologers and the eastern region for the king. But, the informations gathered from the field research work conducted in Nallur tell us that in North western region itself, locations proper and suited for brahmins (Kurukkal Valavu) and court bard (Arasakesari) and also places like pandarakulam, Sangilian thoppu, sangiliyan street etc did exist. The reason for this could be the fact that the main Nallur Kandan temple (the region where the church is seen today) and its sacred pond were situated in the Northeastern region. Further, as the notes and references of the Porthugese describe the Nallur Murugan temple as a great grand shrine with forrtifying walls, the land belonging to the temple must have been of a huge area and circumference. And, this would have posed some difficulties. This could have been the reason for most of the places that were proper for the royalty to have been established in the Northwest region. Still, there might have been some places belonging to the king in the northwest region also. Pandian maaligai varalaru (Pandian palace) that is seen in this region lends strength to this contention.

That the region belonging to those like the goldsmiths and such other craftsmen must have been in the southeast side. So opine the architectural books of the Ancient hindus. As lending credibility to this claim we come across the dyers’ street and such other places belonging to the labour class in the south-eastern region of Nallur. Likewise, the soldiers and the palace staff must have dwelt in the southwest region and the informations gathered from field research work and the architectural books of the ancient hindus prove this point. As the architectural books of the hindus say that the market place should be in the Northeast side of the city, the conclusion that in Nallur Rajdhani also there should have been a road round the fortifying walls on its inner side, was arrived at.

So far we have seen how the city layout of the Nallur Rajdhani had been planned and constructed. When we look at the city structure of the ancient hindus we see that some of them were built as temple-cities and some others as Rajdhanis (capital cities). In Nallur Rajdhani’s case our research work proves that it was structured in such a way as to be atonce a temple city and also a Rajdhani. This is the reason why Nallur Rajdhani’s city layout differs from that of the other cities. And, this is its significant aspect too.

1.Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple
2. Nallur Kandhan temple
3. Kailasanadhar temple (DIAGRAM)
4.Sattanadhar temple
5. Veeramaakaaliyamman temple
6.The main junction close to the Royal market place.

Reference books :
Yaazhpaana Vaibhavamaalai – edited by Kulasapaanaadhan
Yaazhpaana Charithram – Mudaliar Se. Rasanayakam
Yaazhpaana Charithram – Aa. Muthuthambi – pillai
(The history of yaazhpaana) ezhathu Thamizh Ilakkiya Valarchi
(The literary growth of Jaffna Tamil) – Kalanidhi Ka.Se. Natarasa
Thamizh Manaiyadi Sasthram – P.S. Aacharya
((The Sasthras of Tamils for laying foundation for house)
Thamizhagam – Oorum Paerum – Ra. Pi. Sethupillai
Conquest of Ceylon – Queroz. F Vol. 184
Tamils and Ceylon – C.S. Navarathnam
The kingdom of Jaffna – S. Pathmanathan.
Urban and Regional planning – Rame Gowda.
Urban Geography – Prof. Jeyasingam.
Early Christianity in Ceylon – Fr. Rev. peiris, Fr. Meersman.
Living Architecture – Indian – Andreas Volwashen.
Monumental Art and Architecture of India – K. Sundaram.
The arts and crafts of India and Ceylon – Ananda coomarasamy.

1.Yaazhpaana Rachiyam – Kalanidhi C.K. Sitrambalam
2. Vaiyapaadal – Kalanidhi K. S. Natarasa
3. Yaazhpaanathu Periyakoil – K. Gunarasa)
4. Yaazhpaanam Endra peyar thoendriyadhe evvaaru?
(How the name Yaazhpaana came into being?) – M. K. A. Anthanisil
5. ‘Yaazhpaanam endra peyarin kaaranam patriya karuthaaivu’ (analysing the
origin and source of the name Yaazhpaana) – Kalanidhi K. S. Natarasa
6.’Eelam and the Hindu Religion’ – Polanaruvaik kaalam – Kalanidhi.
7. The Kings of Jaffna during Porthugese period – swami Gnanaprakasar.
8. Nila Alavaith thinaikala Varaipadangal (Land Survey Plans from the Dept.
of Surveying), (Diagrams of the different length and breath of space for
different divisions of land). Jaffna Town planning Assessment Surveys:
Sheet No. A2/45/4w, A2/45/3E.
9.Roland De Silva’s essay on Anuradhapura Town Planning.

Canadian Tamil Literature

THE HOMELESS!  – V.N.Giritharan –
Translation By: Latha Ramakrishnan
(Published in the E- Magazine PATHIVUKAL dated May 2003. issue: 47)

ManSaturday Night.  The time was well past midnight.  The region called Richmond Duncan Area which is the merry making and recreation locality inthe downtown of Toronto city was still bustling with activities. In every corner there was a club overflowing with youth and their dance and music.  The street-vendors of ‘Hot Talk’ were going round and round ,busily looking after their business. Those at the steering wheels of call-taxis were also busy with their passengers boarding and alighting.  Some were returning home, not delaying the process .Some others were just then arriving in taxis and cars.  In the street-corners ,in the midst of all these chaos the ‘homeless’ were deep in sleep with the ‘man-hole’ lids providing the warmth.I was returning from work, retiring for the day, observing all that was happening around me.  Observing my surroundings and my fellow-beings have always been my favourite past-time. While I was standing there, waiting for the signal to change, “Can you spare some coins, my friend?”, so a voice reached me, I turned around.  At my side there was a middle aged man, a South African ,standing. A beard with slightly grayish tinge.  Bushy moustache.  A face glowing with happiness and a half-smile.  In his hand there was a plastic container.  On that it was written ‘Clarke for Toronto Mayor’ in English. Above all that which surprised me was his appearance as a gentleman sporting suit and coat.  I dumped a two dollar coin into the plastic container extended towards me.  At that, with the word ‘Thanks’ he conveyed his gratitude to me.  This great city, despite all these years spent here, has never failed to supply me with new, different experiences every day.  Its mysterious self seems something that can never fully apprehended.  So much so that it drove me to coin a new proverbs saying that the real depth of this city indeed be deeper than the great grand sea itself.

The man continued. Taking hold of my hands in a warm handshake he introduced himself.  “Friend, my name is Clarke, I am standing for the election of Ioronto Mayor.  I am homeless”.  His words surprised me further.  For the election of Ioronto Mayorship many are in the fray and I had already known it.  But, as I didn’t  know beforehand that such a person,  a homeless, dwelling on the streets was also one of the contestants,  I was, kind of, taken aback. With my sense of surprise writ large on my face I told him, “It’s news to me”. His response was “It is not surprising, for, the journals here would’ve thought why waste time writing about a person like me”.  I was reminded of a story narrated to me when I was a boy. Once the then  President of Srilanka, J.R. paid a visit to Ankodai. Ankodai is the famous mental asylum in Srilanka.  And, one of the inmates ofAnkodai addressed the prestigious visitor thus: “Greetings, May I know who you are?” J.R.responded with a smile, saying, “I am the all powerful legally – elected President of this country”. Hearing that the patient who threw on him the query, laughed aloud and then advised J.R as follows:  “Sir, I too had uttered those words and as a result had been trapped here ever since.  Don’t you dare tell that again to others that which you have told me now.  Then you will also suffer the same fate”.  A thought crossed my mind. ‘This man is also saying that he is one of the candidates for the Mayor Election.  He is a homeless one.  And he is wearing coat and suit in the manner of a gentleman.  Could it be that he is also one like the person who welcomed J.R.?  Or else why should he say in one breath and in all seriousness that  he is homeless and also that he is standing for the election of  Toronto Mayorship?  But, his voice was clear and confidant.  There was no Conflict or stammer in his words.  From his voice no one would think of doubting his sanity.  Not even a semblance of such suspicion could confront them.  He conversed in such a balanced, down-to-earth manner

“Friend, may I ask you some thing?” said I “Sure”, said he and waited for my  questions.( (Here greeting one another with the words “Hey Man” or ‘My Friend’ is very common).

“You look like a perfect gentleman.  At the same time you call youself ‘Homeless’ who has given you all these dresses!” So I asked in a note of surprise.  For that he said “Friend. to tell you the truth, all these have come to me on their own, given to me voluntarily by those who have care and concern for my welfare.. The pathway at the spot where Adelaide and Bay meet is where I live.  If ever you feel like seeing me, come there ” 

With a faint smile I said,  “You are a mysterious man”.  He too responded with such a smile. I continued.  “If you have no objection about revealing, please let me know what gave  you the itch to stand in the Mayor election?”  Remaining silent for a while he then said,  “You don’t  know about my past.  If you come to know of it you would turn shell-shocked.  My excitement   increased.  “But  ,if you don’t tell me about your past my head would go splinters, as like the vikramadhithya-vethalam tale”.  Said I, “Vethalam. who is that?”, asked he, “Oh, that’s not important.  You can begin narrating your story”.  said I .Responding, he continued as follows:  “Once upon a time I was engaged in a million-dollar foul play.  I distributed drugs.. I worked as a pimp with a bunch of girls.Then only I came to realize that life is not just money.. Now, my one and only aim in life is to love all my fellow-beings.  Love them all sincerely and in all seriousness. You don’t know. Moreover.” – He stopped.  “Why did you stop.?” asked I eagerly.  “If I am to go past, crossing this signal I will be stopped.  And, advices would be handed over to me, unasked.  If I were to be seen by the policemen they won’t leave me.  They won’t leave you too.  But, do you think that such a situation would befall a white-man? The immigrants, minorities are all so much affected and suffer a lot.  I should help them all. And that’s why I am going to stand in this election”, So he replied to my query.  In the end the story turned in  another direction. “Friend! I am a writer.. I am bringing out a Monthly.  What should I do to have you interviewed for that?” asked  I.  He responded saying, “My pleasure.  You can come to my place, that is the Adelaide-Bay junction.  We can meet there,” and then, asked me “‘Do you have children? “Oh yes, two real good girl children”, said I. When he listened to that he gave me two twenty – five cents coins and also offered the advice given below.  “If ever your children go out, give them these coins.  Tell them to inform you wherever they are”. After that he took leave of me and went away.  I stood looking at his departing frame, till it went out of sight.  Just like this mysterious city, a mysterious man, – felt I. 

Translated into English by Latha Ramakrishnan.

Canadian Tamil Literature

MICE  – V.N.Giritharan –
Translation By: Latha Ramakrishnan

ManTroubles caused by cockroaches proved unbearable. Undertook all possible efforts. Right from the Chinese chalk, no way was left untried. But, all in vain. Cockroaches remained the victors forever. At last, attaining the grace to accept defeat and valiantly moving over to another apartment- such a move provided not the expected relief but alas, it turned out to be from the frying pan into the fire. Instead of cockroaches mice caused untold agonies. In Canada, only the buildings have risen sky-high and not the rats. For me who was so used to seeing the fleshy, fatty rats of our rural sides these mice appeared queer. In different parts of the globe, in different soils living beings do exist in different forms. My better half’s continuous grumbling and complaints were another reason for my attention to be focussed on the mice. The way our child too started enjoying the sight of those insects and mice that were running hither and thither added to our woes. “Look here, if you are not going to get rid of your mice I’m not going to stay here for another moment. We have a crawling baby at home, don’t you remember…” Within six months from setting foot in Canada the mother tongue becomes kind of alien to many. But even after six years my wife continues to speak in uncontaminated pure Jaffna Tamil. If I spoke of those who’ve forgotten tamil “that is all humbug…dirty presentation..” so, she would say.. I could bear with anything but not with her grumbling and likerings. And, till I set out to find some solution to this burning problem she wouldn’t leave me in peace. So, I decided to meet the mice in the battlefield, so to say. Of course, various strategies should be awarded for victory in warfare. The first step should be to know about our enemies, i.e., the mice. The more we gather valuable information about them the easier their capture could be. Initially we didn’t think much of the mice. It was when they started having a go at rice, flour etc that we became to the empending danger. If left unchecked, the situation could go out of control. I started realizing that my wife’s grumbling was justifiable. I decided to probe into the affairs of the mice after my better half and offspring went to bed. This investigative indulgence would prove helpful in selecting the appropriate spots for placing the newly bought mousetraps.

Bringing rice and flour and keeping them on the dining table I came away and reclining on the sofa switched on the TV Eagerly awaiting the arrival of the mice and keeping vigil in hope and expectation at random. I was watching the Letterman’s boring feats also. Time was running. In one corner of the wall there was a thin horse. I sharpened my eyes and ears. Close to that old sofa that was placed near the dining table a tiny head as that which we would call grain-sized peeped out slowly. Eyes as black tiny beads. Tiny ears. For a moment there was absolutely no movement. It was then that something stirred in my throat and a sneeze exploded. However much I tried to control it  I couldn’t. Out came that with a bang. You should see the speed of the mouse. It flew away. No can even say that it had just disappeared from the scene. After a short pause when everything remained still and silent the tiny head re-appeared. And, the black beady eyes; ‘Winnowing-fan’ ears. 

This time I was watching in utter quiet. Seemed like, only after searching for rice and flour in their usual places in the kitchen area and following their scent it had come by the side of the dining table. Inside me there arose a strange wish. In order not to facilitate its climb to the dining table I had already moved the chairs a little away from the table. Wondering how it would realize its climb, curbing my movements as much as possible, I was following its movements with alert and watchful eyes. I had already realizes that even a flicker of a movement was enough to warn it. After wandering hither and thither for a while, sniffing the rise it had fallen under the table. For sometime it remained calm in that position, keeping its ears all alert. Then raising its tiny head upward it looked above once looked like it had guessed the place where the food was kept. I could feel the movement of my wife inside the room, consoling our child that was crying in sleep, and slowly rolling over. Every life in the world tries and tries hard all through its existence. As like this mouse or as like me, we can say. Because war has come to be, since the day of leaving our land what all efforts in what all ways…If one turns out not ok another attempt. Even if one succeeds, one more trial. What a wonderful, great grand world. A world full of mystery. This mouse is now struggling again and again to climb up one of the steep legs of the table.   Its movements spell out its intense desire to get on to the table and search the food somehow. 

Scaling and falling down, scaling and falling down, the mouse was so going on trying. Sometimes it might succeed in his attempts. Sometimes it might not. But it didn’t seem to be the type which would get disheartened by failures and stop trying. Till the final victory is achieved or till it falls down utterly exhausted it would surely continue its efforts. What an awe-inspiring will power in this tiny piece of life. What grit and determination!

My wife’s grumbling and complaints to find a way to do away with mice came to mind vaquely.Oh! My foolish woman, don’t these mice to have their family, kids and such other relationships, just like us? And, who can say how many lives are there relying on this one tiny life? Just because it eats a few grains or food particles, say what at all do we lose…?

Sleep was weighing heavy on my eyes. But, that small little being didn’t seem to stop at all. In my half-asleep state also the sound of its feather touch movements could be seen. 

Canadian Tamil Literature

AN END AND A BEGINNING!  -V.N.Giritharan –
Translation By: Latha Ramakrishnan

WifeSlowly it was turning dark. The sun who was overwhelmed by the crimson color of the twilight horizon was embracing the horizon with swelling love and was losing his senses in a blissful communion. Widespread the pond bank remained all still. Birds were returning home in groups. Even at this time some kingfishes were greedily looking for their prey, lying in wait in a closeby tree- branch. In calm the wind was soothingly blowing.

With eyes on the water surface and hand on the child that was wandering and there on the lawn that lay spread on the pond-bank, there was

Yamuna clear sharp look… broad forehead… she had made her thick dense hair into a bun. In an ordinary cotton saree her rose skin and

shapely figure glowed splendidly. In those eyes which would be forever dreaming … that tinge of sadness…

‘Such a gloom should not have come over her’ so I told  myself. Anger and frustration against this damned and cursed society swelled in me.

For, it is the viewpoints and thought-process of this society that have turned her so.

I who was working in Colombo had come back to my native village after the exit of foreign battalions was so much disturbed by this sight of

Yamuna. Ina our childhood she had been always with me eating and playing together. My beloved childhood companion. She is older than me

by two years. Her astonishing beauty and brains… it is two years since she has got married. I couldn’t attend her marriage at all. It was during

that time when our country was full of war and bloodshed that the marriage took place and on that day many youths were taken into custody

on suspicion and I was one among them. So much had happened in these two years…. so many changes have taken place. Our very life is

but a warfare. A constant struggle to escape for our life… as like a warfare within a warfare and  a rum within the run for life… all those that

have taken place… all those unwanted happenings… Today, even after the rains have stopped there is still some drizzling…

Thiayagarajah – Yamuna’s husband. Tying the sacred yellow thread around her neck and taking  oath in the presence of the god of fire that

he would look after her as his very life and then not keeping his word and punishing her for no fault of her. Treating her with utmost disdain

and contempt at a time when his support and companionship were needed by her the most. At a time when he should be treating her with

utmost care and concern, he had discarded her with no second thought and left her, thereby losing his very manliness, to put it mildly.

Decrying her as unchaste and immoral he had gone his way. The condition of yamuna as the mother of a child caused a deep pain in me.

Already she had suffered a cruel assault at the hands of an inhuman scoundrel… and adding to that all-time pain, this unbearable treatment

by her better-half…. God, what is chastity… it is something more linked with the mind and heart and it is indeed unfair to use it as a whip to

inflict capital punishment on women.

Why Thiagarajah behave so?

“Ragendran, I’m no Bharathi to discourse on being progressive. The very thought that someone else had enjoyed my wife… kills me. How can I

continue living with her.. the very thought is unbearably repulsive…”

“Thiayagu… was it her choice? Please think it over.. did she willingly go to bed with that fellow? At a time when you should be treating her

with utmost care and concern, instilling in her confidence giving her assurance that everything is fine. How can you speak in this manner?

Think of your child for  a moment.. please…”

“Ragendra…. I’m prepared to undertake the responsibility of looking after my child and bringing it up. But,  I heard that Ymuna wouldn’t agree

to it. Please , place yourself in my shoes and think over… while going out with Yamuna what all catcalls would confront me. Bearing with all

those and continue my life with her would prove a shame on my very manhood.. can’t you realize that…?”

” A shame on your manhood…. god, manliness is not that, my friend… it is your deed of deserting her and leaving her in the lurch that is a

blot on your manhood…”

In a way… the society is also responsible for  Thiayagarah’s bent of mind. This society and it’s goddamn rules and regulations… customs,

taboos and what not. Caught in the web of all these Thiayagarah behaves so. He is unable to go past the social barriers and he is unable to

free himself from their hold.

Faraway, the sun had already lost half of himself. Darkness had turned more dense than before. Even those few Kingfishers who had been

keeping vigil for their prospective prey had left the place long before. Throwing small, little stones on the pond yamuna went on looking at the

surface of the water. In my heart too which was in a confused state a clarity came to be. I too arrived at a decision. And I told her of my

decision. She was shocked. For a while she remained deeply plunged in silence, born of her dumbstruck state.

“Ragendra…” tears swelled in her eyes. She couldn’t talk further. What can she say. The social- structure into which she is born is such. She

is a married woman. Having a child too. In this young age undergoing the trauma of rape at the hands of a cruel, two-legged animal she now

stands all alone, deserted by her husband.But, she is also a woman. And, her heart will also crave for love and as like any other woman she

too would long to have the feeling of being wanted.But, will this society give a thought to all these and more, before passing a verdict on her…

‘If they come to know that such a relationship exists between Yamuna and myself won’t my people, my mother and my kith and kin spit at us?

A man-eater, luscious female.. she has caught hold of an innocent youth by her feminine tricks… won’t they tear her to pieces with such

heartless observations..? None bothers if a man marries number of times. A sixty year old man is free to marry a sixteen year old girl. Not one

but he can as well have three or four secret marriages also. No one  questions him. But, a woman.. that too a woman in a hapless state like

Yamuna should live this ‘only once born’ life all alone, in a companionless state of exile, killing all her natural feeling and desires, just behave 

she has been born a female.  Sainthood is forced on her by the society.

This is the social norm. It is this that the society expects and demands of its female members. I have realized all these. And that is why I was

very much firm in my decision. But. Yamuna turned to look at her child playing on the lawns closeby. And then she looked at me miserably.

Again I continued. “yamuna, marriage is mainly a union of two persons. who understand each other well and decide to travel together through

thick and  thin. But Thaiyagarah’s bent of mind and behaviour has proved that he is no match for you. As for as I am concerned you need a

companion, a support in this hour of crisis. The closeness of one who can instil in you the feeling of security and sense of belonging. Why

can’t that be me who has been with you right from our childhood days?”

“Ragendra, you have said it all so easily. But, do you know how much of an enmity and hatred it would generate. Your mother, kith and kin..

your people.. all would curse on me only, you know. won’t they say that is was right on the part of my man to have left me? Why should you

waste your precious life for my sake…? Please leave my worries in my hands alone…”

Saying so Yamuna remained silent for a while. It is the discourse of womanhood that is so used to bear all its sufferings in silence… But, I

remained firm in my decision.

“Yamuna, I’m sure that  I can pacify my mother in course of time. All I want is your consent. Please say yes. That’s enough for me. And, I

care a twopence about those social norms that have brought you to this miserable state of being. Suffice it is if we understand each other.”

Uttering these words I looked into her eyes intently. But, she looked into my eyes in all silence. And, I could interpret her silence all too well. I

could realize those pure feelings, love, affection, hope and gratitude that swelled in her eyes and her voiceless worlds.

“Yamuna…” I take her in a tight embrace. And, she who gave her whole to me finding solace and shelter in my hands went into a blissful

amnesia wherein the world outside ceased to be. Faraway, the horizon was turning crimson all over with the Sun losing itself completely in the

wholesome communion.

Canadian Tamil Literature

– V.N.Giritharan –
Translation By: Latha Ramakrishnan

Like the Rajaraman of Jeyakanthan’s  rishimoolam he has grown beard and moustache, keeping one of the legs in squatting posture and keeping the other in a raised and folded fashion he was holding his knee with his right hand. And, he had placed his left hand firmly on the floor at his back. His hair had grown long. In the mouth there remained half of a still burning cigarette. Only his eyes were filled with a kind of abnormal glow. The man sitting on the manhole resembled the appearance of a seer seated on a sheet of deerskin. If he was one of the wayside heroes I was a small wayside vendor. And, selling hot dog was my business.

Faraway, in the north the Ontario parliament building could be seen. At my back stood the famous child care medical institution Sick Kids Hospital. For a while the seer kept staring at the Parliament of Ontario then he laughed.

“Why are you laughing?” asked I.

“See, the weird game of time…”

“Time’s game..?”

“What else but that?”

He looked at the sky for some time. He enjoyed the full moon’s cool presence there. Darkness had come to set in.  Still the city was full of life. Everybody was hurrying at great speed. In the meantime some customers came my way too. One of my customers, a Nigerian taxi driver came after parking his taxi in a corner of the road.

 “Hi, how are you chief?” asked I. 

    “Pretty good man… how are you?”

“What of me… I’m always ok,” saying so he laughed. The person standing next to him also laughed. He was a real chief. In his motherland Nigeria there were some three thousand persons under him relying on him for their very livelihood. He belonged to one of those ancient clans of Nigeria. Every time they would send documents for his approval. He had received a degree in one of the Universities here. During winter he would drive taxi here. As soon as summer sets in he would go running to Nigeria. His people not know of his taxi driving here. If they know they wouldn’t leave him here. So he would say. He had said once that so many other chiefs were also driving cabs.

 Only then he saw the man standing next to him.

“Hi, chief…..How are you?”  Asked he. An African chief was enquiring after the welfare of a Canadian chief. The tribes of Sami were once the rulers of the entire continent of America. One of the heir-apparents to a clan that reigned supreme. Today they live a marginalised existence of minority within the minority.

 Sami smiled in reply. The African chief gave a cigarette to the Canadian chief, and left. “Good soul” said Sami and lighted the cigarette, and inhaling, released the smoke. “He, an African driving cabs in the middle of the road and so living his life,”-saying so he pointed at the Parliament building. “From there they are formulating laws….what else is this but the satanic dance of fate.” Following this observation he sang a small verse melodiously.

 “ In time all independent
   Or dependent
  But, sure it is
 So wicked, my friend…”

This Sami’s lineage looked highly mysterious. The song that he sang was that much wise and thought provoking. For me who was a lecturer in Physics in the faculty of Antiquity this native Indian appeared as highly mysterious. I knew him for the past three months. From my experience about him so far that which I had gained by way of information or knowledge could be summed up in the following manner.

Another native Indian. He appeared different from his clan of people who were seen on the pathways often with bottle and faltering steps. Except cigarette he never laid hands on drinks. He didn’t have anything like a family of his own. Was there one earlier? God alone knew. So far he had not spoken of his origin. Once when an attempt was made to probe he firmly dissuaded it. After that I had never attempted again, and he too had not spoken a word on that.

His life continued with the help of those small little coins that those who go along the way offer him. The whole day he would be smoking . He wouldn’t spend anything on cigarette. He would go collecting the small pieces of smoked cigarettes that would be strewn on the pathways in front of the very many buildings and smoke them. As for meals every now and then he would drink coffee from the nearby Donut shop. Sometimes Donut would buy and bring. At night everyday I would give Hot Dog and some juice to drink. He wouldn’t get them free of cost. He would offer whatever he would be having in his hand. Mostly he would be meditating all the time. Or else, he would chat with me. Easing himself out, washing the face, all in the nearby hospital washrooms only. Rarely sometimes he would visit a hostel sometimes and have his bath and come. Except these if there was a home and world for him that was this manhole on which he would sit. He had kept a bundle of his rags inside that only. God alone knows what at all is there in that bundle….

So far I have learnt only this much about him. Henceforth only I should fry to gather some more information about him.

Another night has come to rest a while, swaying. Business has also turned a little dull. Sami contemplated on something then, laughed.

“Why did you laugh?” asked I.

“Indians are overflowing all over the world.,” said he and laughed. A look of content has come to settle in his cantenance as if he had uttered a profound philoshopical truth.

“But, in truth, you are not an Indian. And I am also not one.”

“True, that I am no Indian. But, all those belonging to the Indian sub-continent are Indians only to them. East Indian.” 

“But for many Paki” said I.

When he heard this Sami laughed aloud. 

“ Here, they refer to Indian as Paki and call Pakistanis Indian. But there the two factions are always attacking each other” Said I.

For this observation of mine also, Sami laughed heartily. Only then I could observe the fatigue that could be seen widespread all over his cantenance and that if stood out despite his mouthful of laughter.

“What is ailing you?” asked I. “Nothing. Just slight fever,” said he. I always keep an aspirin strip and plaster by my side.

“Do you wan t an aspirin?” asked I.

“No need. Just slight indisposition. That’s all. It’ll be gone soon.” Said he. After that I too didn’t insist on his having some medicine.

When I spread my shop the next day I observed one thing. Sami couldn’t be seen in his place. Usually he would be the one greeting me. I could feel some sort of uneasiness within. For these three months this was the first time I was deprived of Sami’s greeting. Usually I would open my shop around 10 o’clock only. In the meantime Sami would have finished all his morning chores had his lunch and would be sitting on his throne. Those glowing eyes came to my mind. I could visualize the friendly smile. Could it be that Sami had got up rather late?  It was the I remembered that he was having slight fever the previous day. ‘Has the fever intensified and he is now hospitalized?’  Wondering I. then, for a while I became involved in my business. When the business slackened night had set in. still Sami could be seen nowhere. Again I could feel some kind of heaviness within.
Around 10 p.m. Nigeria chief came. “How goes the business?”  Asked he. It was then that he noticed the emptiness of the manhole. 

“Where is chief?” asked he.

“The whole day he could not be seen. No idea as to where he has gone….”

“Did he tell anything last night…”

“He was with mild fever…But, he refused to take aspirin.”

“Does he stay anywhere else…?”

“As far as I know he would always lie on the man-hole cover. He would keep his few possessions too inside this man-hole only.”

“I see….” The African chief was lost in contemplation for some time and then came back to his senses.

“A thought comes to me.” Said he.


“Can it be that he has changed his spot…. Anyway to make sure all that we have to do is to just open the manhole and look inside. If his possessions are not to be seen there, then we can be rest assured that he has moved over to another place..”

Saying so he opened the manhole cover. Opening he let out a cry. ”Oh, my God…”

He called out to me asking me to come and see. I went there and peeped inside. There, hugging his bog and baggage close to his heart Sami was lying in a crumpled and folded fashion.

“My God…he has been lying here the whole of today..”

“Yes, chief…chief..” Nigerian chief screamed.

There was no stir at all. In the mean time the passersby had gathered there. Nigerian chief jumped into the manhole and felt the pulse.

“Gone,” said he.

Faraway, in the darkness the parliament building of Ontario built in the style of Romanesque structure could be seen glowing in full splendor. 

Canadian Tamil Literature

Husband  -V.N.Giritharan –
Translation By: Latha Ramakrishnan

WifeSababathi stood there in the balcony eyeing the scenes that lay spread in front, without actually seeing them. Buildings, s far as the eyes could travel. Tall, short, wide, narrow structures. “As Desomond Morris said ‘cages where two-legged human animals live. And the cities are but Human zoo that shelter human-animals. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong in his observation. In fact, for the basic problems that encounter the man of today, cities can also be a reason in a way. Most of the changes that come over animals when they are forced to live in cages can well be perceived in these human animals too, who suffocate within the narrow walls of these concrete jungles. It is from being in the cities only that the modern men wield power over his fellowmen. If one is to go by logical reasoning of mathematics that X=Y, Y=Z; Therefore X=Z, then city men becomes the main reason for all the problems that befalls the man of today.  Isn’t so? But Sababathi was not in a mood to ponder over these things.

Cold is more than usual this year. The snowfall has not yet started. During the early days of his stay in Toronto when the winter season was on itsway itself he would start getting severe headache. And, the thought of his native place would invariably turn him nostalgic. He would be overwhelmed with the urge to take a deep plunge in Cashorina beach. The yearning to recline near the Navali sand mounds and enjoy watching the fields spread far and wide, the crownland seashore that could be seen faraway, ‘Kallundai’ space, the palm girls swaying in the wind would grip him painfully. But, as years passed he became accustomed to Toronto. Winter season and the snow do not threaten him now. They too have become familiar to him. These days darkness sets in early. By 4.30 or 5 o’clock darkness comes to shroud everywhere. In the mild darkness this concrete jungle is all ready to retire for the day. Tall and long, the CN Tower could be seen faraway and even from a great distance its outline stands out in all elegance. For the heart and mind that enjoy all these usually, today seem to be a holiday. For, the heart keeps thinking of Banu and aching for Banu alone. Bhanumathi is his better half. It would take at least an hour for the better half to reach home. Some how a solution should be found out to this problem, before the close of today. Arriving at this decision within, he goes inside. And there, taking Taquila and Marguerite and mixing them in proportion and taking out ice-cubes from the fridge and putting them also, he comes back to the balcony. While in his native place his favorite drinks were ‘Panag Kallu’ and ‘Kuranku’ (palmwine and arrack). Whoever has named it ‘Kuranku’ (Monkey), God blesses her/him soul and that blessed person should be given a mouthful of sugar for giving such a name.  That monkey was powerful enough to clear the doubts of these who nurtured doubts about our ancestry. And, of the drinks of this country none is to his liking. Whatever large quantities gulped he never could get from ‘Kuranku’. It could be a symptom of his getting on in age. But, this Taquela he likes to some extent. 

The very introduction of Taquila came his way only because of his going to play ‘guitar’. Please don’t break your head wondering what could be the relevance of Taquila to guitar playing. Playing guitar is the code-language for washing the dishes in the restaurant. That’s all. The first job that came his way on his arrival in Canada was this ‘playing guitar’. Greek’s restaurant. When it comes to work, as Kaundamani (Tamil comedy actor) would often say ‘ he would slog like a bull’. And, the Greeks like such human bulls very much. And, they also like to extract work that required animal strength. But, if you work to their content then they would treat you so well as none else could.

Before coming to Canada itself he was working in a Greek ship. Thus he had learnt a little about the Greeks. When he was writing G.C.E (O/L) he had studied something about such scientists as ‘Archimdedes’. The Greeks have an important role in the growth and development of human civilization. It is a human race that reigned supreme once upon a time. Just like us the Greeks too love to speak about past glory. That too, just like us they would feel extremely joyous if we were to utter the name of Archimedes or Plato. The knowledge that Sababathi had gained about the Greeks always come handy whenever he works with the Greeks. The restaurant owner Peter who was also bowled over by his ‘Greek’ knowledge, quality of work and pleasing manners would mix a drink with proportionate cocktail with his own hands, when Sababathi would be leaving for home after the day’s work.  Refreshing it with the fatigue of the day’s toil leaving him the Greek would listen to his words about Aristotle all too eagerly.  ‘The English alone are responsible for all the problems of the world. Not just your country alone, but they have ruined us also”, So Peter would often say. That restaurant experience helps him today

He drinks one mouthful. That is indeed soothing to the heart. Again, thoughts about Bhanumathi fill him. Problem is this. He and Bhanumathy got married just one year back. The problem that has not arisen for the whole year has come to be for the past one month. All because of a story that he heard last month. The story that was floated around in a small party thrown by a friend was the cause for the rise of a scorching tongue of flame in his mind. In drunken severely his friends were discussing about the fraudulent action committed of late by a few in the name of agents. They were shedding tears for those hapless women who are undergoing all kinds of travails and trauma in Thailand and Singapore. Among the friends one was working as an agent. He got angry and shouted at those who were speaking ill of the agent-clan. ‘There are criminals everywhere, in all fields. For that, decrying all agents and calling them all scoundrels is wrong.’ That was his line of argument. Of course, true only. ‘But for those called agents the population of our people would not have multiplied here. Aren’t our agents experts in finding a way even through the needle-hole’. Sababathi also has come to Canada through an agent only. Criminals are there at all levels and it applies in the case of agents also. This is Sabbath’s contention too. The way our men are being ruined it is all because of our country’s prevailing climate. It is this climate that forces every one of us to run hither and thither for shelter. This is the source foe all kind of problems. Therefore, if our country’s condition could improve then all the mischiefs and mismanagement would rapidly go down’, so another friend was reasoning out. Till that point there was no problem for Sababathi. It was only after that when they started discussing about an agent the problem started.

It was about an agent living in Toronto with his wife and children. It was that agent who brought Bhanumathi also to Canada. The fire of suspicion started raging high. With this agent Bhanumathi had retained herself in Singapore for a month. The very thought of it all proved unbearable. Bhanumathy’s beauty would drive everyone mad. And, it drove him insane to the core, to say the least. Voluptuous body. However much loosely the dresses are worn they would never hide her shapely body, its mounds and curves that would look swelling forever. The very reason for his growing fire of suspicion is her extra-ordinary beauty. Once again he gulped one mouthful. The drink that went inside started playing its tricks. 

‘Shall  I ask? Shall I spell out the doubt that is eating my heart? How to ask? Won’t she spit at me? But, it is remained unasked the turmoil within would surely break his head and soul. What to do? She is also toiling hard as a two-legged animal in a factory. And how to ask her who would be returning home utterly spent out…’ The more he tried to curb it the turmoil raging in his heart grew worse.

 Christina would often say: “I will marry any Tom, Dick and Harry but never an Indian. Never at all.”

“Why Christina? There are none in the world as patient as the Indian men. Do you know that?”

“Come on, don’t bluff Sababathi. I’ve seen your Ramayana. Your God Rama himself suspected his wife and forced her to undergo the test by fire. Didn’t he? “  Christina worked with him as a waitress in that Greek restaurant. Some were color fanatics. They won’t chat much. Among them she was an exception. As far as she was concerned Sri Lanka or Pakistan or Bangladesh or India… those who came from these parts were all Indians only. In this she is a little different from those who are color-fanatics. For those color fanatics all those who come from these parts are Pakis. That alone is the difference.

“Sababathi, look at your Rama. You place him on a pedestal, call him God and worship him and give him your offerings. But, he couldn’t believe even his own wife. Whatever reason he could come out for his thought and deed of doubting his wife it was wrong on his part to have subjected Seetha to test by fire.”

“In truth, Rama didn’t suspect his wife at all. He knew that his wife was blemishless, purity-personified. He subjected her to that test only to let the world know of her chastity and loyalty.”

‘That very act is what I call wrong. Lord Rama himself who is an incarnation of God doing so makes it right on the part of one and all to suspect their wives and subject them to such tests.”

‘What is wrong in that? “ 

“Ofcourse, it is wrong. Marriage is not an ordinary thing. It is a rare kind of relationship or togetherness where they rely on each other and believe each other all through their lives. For this mutual belief if of paramount importance. Each one should respect the right of the other person. Did Seetha go to Ravana willingly? If the Epic was written in such a way that the people suspected her chastity and fidelity but Rama accepted her back whole heartedly with no doubt whatsoever then Ramayan would’ve been my favorite story. Look us at us. Till we get married we are living as we please. After marriage we are not bothered about our past lives. But you Indians, you would go with any number of women. But, your wife should be chaste and loyal.” 

Christina’s voice could be heard within. It was as if she was giving out her typical laughter from closeby. Sababathi drinks another mouthful. His heart turns lighter still, and breaks. ‘In what way I am qualified to ask Bhanu? Do I have a valid reason to confront her with such a question? As a wife, has she ever let me down? Has she ever lacked in anything? Voicing my doubt to her, oh won’t I demean my status as a husband? When it is wrongful even to suspect our wife do I have atleast the moral right to do so? Or, to put it more precisely, an I qualified to do so?’

As the kick of the liquor increases Sababathi’s mind invariably starts walking down the memory’s lane. Memories that are snakes that come out from the snake hole and dance dangerously. At that time he had just set foot on the first step of youth. It was the time when he had started working in the ship and was busy listing down the differences between the beauty of the Thailand dames and that of South America. Has she ever told Bhanumathy about his past? By chance, listening about the wayward life style of those employed in the ship and growing suspicious if she were to come and seek explanation from him how bad it would make him feel?

“Look at us. After marriage we never bother about our past. But, you Indians…” 

‘The full meaning of what you said was beyond my comprehension that day. But now…. ‘ Sababathi gulps the remaining drink. What happened to the headache that was throbbing unbearably? ‘It is time for cup of coffee for her who would be returning all exhausted after the day’s work?’ Sababathi gets ready to welcome his fatigue filled wife. If only Christina had witnessed this she would have surely reviewed her viewpoint about Indian husband.